i-Link’s proprietary applications were developed with consideration for both the researcher’s needs and the research participant’s experience, with data security being paramount.
Our systems and IT infrastructure are accredited to ISO 27001, the standard for information security management systems. i-Link has two servers located in monitored, highly secured, fire protected areas with 100Mb ethernet connections to the internet, with palmprint recognition required for physical access.
We implement a number of security measures throughout the data collection process to ensure that data is not lost, stolen or compromised in any way. These include:
- Collecting data live to highly secured databases within our system
- Storing survey data as coded responses only, with codeframes and variable labels stored separately
- Encryption of sensitive data as it is passed from our system to the data storage area
- Storing proprietary data in separate and secure client databases
- Routinely backing up files on an hourly basis
To protect their privacy, survey respondents are only ever identified by a Unique Identifiaction tag within response data, while their personal information is encrypted and stored separately.
As online research does not allow respondents to be physically monitored, we have developed a number of techniques to assess the validity of data and minimise inadvertent respondent error. These assessments, conducted as data is being collected and after a project has closed, include:
- Preventing respondents from altering their responses once they have been screened out of a survey.
- Flagging data which clearly indicates poorly considered, inconsistent, rushed and confused input. These may then be removed from the final data set.
- Thoroughly screening participants supplied by external sources. Those that are deemed invalid on two or more occasions are added to a black-ban listing managed within our system, thus preventing them from participating in further research conducted by i-Link.
- Using smart screening techniques to minimise lie-responses
- Compiling a history on all i-Link panel respondents, allowing us to identify those who have been invited to participate in a set number of our surveys and blocking their entry to a survey if necessary.
- Examining open-ended data to identify ‘junk’ responses. If necessary we can also cross-check closed questions and flag respondents who demonstrate obvious and repeated inconsistencies in their responses.