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Collecting personal data - do's and don'ts

There are many ways of collecting data including signup forms, questionnaires and surveys. There are a few things to think about when collecting data as it is your personal responsibility for complying with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when Processing personal data.

Collecting data do's

  • Do clearly state the reason why you are collecting the data and how the data will be used.
  • Do clearly state how long you intend to keep the data.
  • Do supply contact details or unsubscribe routes to enable subjects to request removal from email lists, access to their data, make updates or erase data if required.
  • Do share sensitive data securely
  • Do store sensitive data securely, keep your records up to date and securely delete data that is no longer required.
  • Do include an opt-in tick box to subscribe people to each additional way you want to use their data. See examples in this handy infographic.

Collecting data don'ts

  • Don't ask for personal data that is not required for your study i.e. if the survey can be anonymous do not ask for names.
  • Do not ask for sensitive data unless it informs your study e.g. 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 getting consent.
  • Don't send targeted promotional emails to contacts using marketing automation unless you have specific opt-in authorisation.
  • Don't use one generic opt-in for collecting consent for different uses of subject's personal data.
  • 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 which gives you the capability 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.