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Confidentiality and Anonymity of Participants

Confidentiality and anonymity are ethical practices designed to protect the privacy of human subjects while collecting, analyzing, and reporting data. Confidentiality refers to separating or modifying any personal, identifying information provided by participants from the data. By contrast, anonymity refers to collecting data without obtaining any personal, identifying information. Typically, anonymity is the procedure followed in quantitative studies, and confidentiality is maintained in qualitative studies. In both cases, the researcher gathers information from participants, and it is this information that becomes the data to be analyzed. For the social scientist, peoples’ behaviors and experiences are of great interest, rather than an exposé about individuals. Researchers are expected to respect their participants but are not as interested in reporting the actions of a named person. This ...

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