***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org *****

I am working on an IRB application for my study on use of assisted reproductive services in an immigrant community.

The research will elicit each woman's personal network, and collect compositional data about the alters. Alters themselves will not be interviewed.

Following information I gleaned from this forum and series of articles published in Social Networks in 2005 on IRB issues raised by social network data, I propose to assure confidentiality and anonymity of the data by:

-- replacing all names with numerical IDs

-- destroy all linking info, including process used in linking IDs to names

-- segment the data collection instrument: attribute data will be separated from reproductive risk experiences (attempts at pregnancy, failed ARV procedures), compositional data on alters will be separated from alter lists. All data can be merged using unique numerical codes,  attached to each data segment.

-- Training of all project staff in confidentiality protection

-- Limit the number of project staff with access to any identifying information

-- In-depth data from interviews will be stored in mp3 format and voices of all participants will be modified using Voxal Voice Changer software

-- Data will be stored on secured, encrypted computers and beyond institutional firewalls, accessible via VPN channels.

-- I will also need to argue to the IRB that collection of data on alters is necessary for network research, and it is will be practically impossible to seek consent from all alters in the study, hence consent need to be waived for alters (secondary subjects).

Are these the standard protections that need to be taken?  I would appreciate comments and these plans, and any recent experiences (beyond 2005) of how SNA researchers deal with IRB issues.

Thanks in advance - Noela

_____________________________________________________________________ SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.