My project will be split up into two components: building a data repository using Kora and writing a corresponding white paper that will discuss my experiences in constructing a model for qualitative data. The first component, the data repository, will house qualitative data, such as one-on-one/focus groups interview transcripts and participant observation field notes. From my experience, it is this type of data that produces much anxiety for qualitatively driven anthropologists. The repository will also host multimedia content such as photos, audio and video. Another important aspect of the repository will be the inclusion of supplementary material, such as project bios, interview guides, consent forms and code books. Despite the wide range of content proposed for the digital repository, a primary concern that cuts across all platforms for anthropologists, who conduct research with human subjects, is confidentiality and human subject protection. This project seeks to address these issues through the construction of a model that will attempt to embody these concerns.
For the second component of my project, I will be working on a white paper that will compliment my experience constructing a data repository for qualitative data. Using my experience as an example, my intention is to use this space to discuss concerns around confidentiality and intellectual property and how they can be addressed or at least mitigated by a set of best practices that will be generated based on my model. One of the most important variables to be considered will be issues of privacy and confidentiality: How can we identifiers will be need to be removed without significantly changing the presented material? As a medical anthropologist, how do I deal with the collection of sensitive medical information and how much of this should be included?
One of my intentions for building this repository is to provide an example for anthropologists handling qualitative data. While issues of confidentiality and intellectual property are an extremely important issue, I do not believe these concerns are enough to end the conversation about open access data. I consider these conversations to rest on a continuum where solutions aren’t all or nothing and will vary based on the context. This is fine. With that being said, I consider developing best practices as one step towards providing one example to encourage open source data/sharing among scholars. Given the recent controversy surrounding the American Anthropological Association’s stance on open access , it is important to have these concrete examples.