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Collecting personal data - do's and don'ts

It is your personal responsibility to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when Processing personal data. Here are some top tips to help you with this:

Collecting data do's

  • Do state a clear reason why you are collecting the data and how it will be used.
  • Do state clearly how long you intend to keep the data.
  • Do supply contact details
  • Do allow people to unsubscribe from email lists, and access, update or erase their data if required.
  • Do share sensitive data securely
  • Do store sensitive data securely. You should keep your records up to date and delete data that is no longer required.
  • Do delete data in a secure way
  • Do include an opt-in tick box for each additional way you want to use their data.

Collecting data don'ts

  • Don't ask for personal data that is not required for your study. If the survey can be anonymous do not ask for names.
  • Don't ask for sensitive data unless it is needed for your study. For example, ethnic background, political opinions or religious beliefs.
  • Don't pass data on to third parties, unless it is lawful to do so. (Read more about Sharing personal data.)
  • Don't automatically opt people in to mailing lists, newsletters or studies.
  • Don't use data from one study for another purpose without people's consent.
  • Don't send targeted promotional emails to contacts unless you have specific opt-in authorisation. Read more about marketing emails.
  • Don't use one generic consent opt-in for different uses of subject's personal data. You must be specific.
  • Don’t offer incentives for gaining consent.

Further guidance

This list is not exhaustive and it is highly recommended that you read Processing personal data and the Information System Security Policies.

If your survey is part of medical research then specific rules apply on Research Governance.

Find out how to build a survey using Qualtrics. Qualtrics is a powerful and easy to use online survey tool available to all College staff. Qualtrics allows you to build and distribute your own Imperial branded surveys. You can embed Qualtrics surveys into your College webpages which are responsive for use on mobile devices.

Contact your Faculty Web Officer for more help with surveys and collecting data.