FEATURE23 August 2019

Do I need to name the client?

x Sponsored content on Research Live and in Impact magazine is editorially independent.
Find out more about advertising and sponsorship.

Features Impact Privacy

Dr Michelle Goddard responds to a question commonly asked by researchers: is it necessary to name my client in studies to comply with GDPR?

IStock-487063216 Professor25

In this, my last Impact column on legal developments, I decided to focus on the single most-asked GDPR question by researchers: do I need to name my client? The short answer to this question is ‘it depends’. And so it does – on the relationship between parties; the type of research study; the tolerable level of organisational risk; and, most importantly, the understanding of the data subjects and the sensitivity of data being captured.

Although, in most studies, naming the commissioning client is not problematic, sometimes it can have significant consequences and adverse impacts, such as in spontaneous awareness research, commercially sensitive product development tests or longitudinal studies. In these cases, disclosing the client identity can reduce methodological rigour by introducing bias to the responses, compromising commercial confidentiality and market sensitivity, or impacting on trend data where attitudes on behaviour, for instance, are measured over time, and the results are no longer comparable.

So, in the following paragraphs, I’ll try ...