Collecting and analysing data

Generating and analysing data is at the core of empirical social science research. A well-planned collection and analysis of research data saves time and effort. The methodologically sound analysis of data is a prerequisite for the credibility of research results.

What are personal data?

Personal data refers to all information that relates to specific or identifiable natural persons. Certain information about individuals is considered to be personal data requiring special protection (e.g. genetic data, biometric data or information about criminal proceedings). Careful handling of personal data is part of good scientific practice.

How do I handle personal data?
  • Personal data should be anonymised or pseudonymised whenever possible (e.g. "person 1", "person 2", etc.). Anonymisation of data includes all measures that help to ensure that individual data can no longer be assigned to an identified or identifiable person. Research data is considered to be completely anonymised or pseudonymised when no conclusions can be drawn from the data set about real persons or organisations.
  • Administrative data of study participants (names, email addresses, bank account details for participation fees, etc.) should be kept separately from the collected study data (separate files and storage locations).
  • If research data cannot be anonymised or pseudonymised for any reason, special precautions are necessary. Data subjects/organisations must be fully informed of their rights and how their data will be used and stored. In addition, proof of necessity must be provided and a risk assessment carried out in accordance with point 5.2 of the HSG Privacy Policy (German version only).
  • The long-term storage of non-anonymised personal or organisational data requires the involvement of the HSG Data Protection Officers.

Federal Act on Data Protection
Act of the Canton of St. Gallen on Data Protection (German version only)
Directive of the Rectorate on Data Handling at the HSG (German version only)
Information on data anonymisation of EPF Lausanne

Who can I contact if I have questions about research methods or software?

Depending on the data used in a research project, different methods are suitable for processing it. The HSG Data and Method Consulting service offers advice on research designs and the methods used, including general recommendations on databases.

What do I have to keep in mind when using software?

If special software is used for data analysis during research, it must be checked whether this software is safe to use and suitable for combination with (long-term) data archiving. In addition, the HSG IT regulations for use (German version only) must be observed.

The Behavioral Lab Lab is a research infrastructure of the University of St.Gallen, which is available to the HSG faculty free of charge for conducting experimental studies of human behaviour. The Lab team assists researchers with the following topics, among others:

  • in handling the available software and hardware;
  • in assessing the feasibility of an experiment;
  • organising and conducting an experiment;
  • recruiting and managing study participants;
  • the extraction of data.

Information on the Behavioral Lab at the HSG

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