Frequently Asked Questions from Depositors

Will the Privacy of Respondents Be Protected When the Micro Data Are Made Public?

Confidentiality of the respondents is the most fundamental condition for a data archive. The SSJDA makes it a rule to double check to assure it--first by offering micro data only after converting them into a form which does not allow identification of individual respondents, and second by obliging every user to sign an agreement which bans publication of any writing in a form which could possibly lead to identification of individual respondents. Thus, protection of privacy and release of data can go hand in hand.

Won't Fewer People Participate in Surveys If Their Data Go Public?

The Japanese are more concerned about privacy than before, but we do not expect them to become less willing to participate on the ground that their data are archived and made public for secondary use. As we just explained, we take concrete measures to prevent leakage of individual information. In addition, we offer the data only to researchers and students who use them for "academic research purposes" and not for any other purpose (e.g. profit making). Further, we will continue to make efforts to publicize the significance of secondary use of micro data. Given the successful history of data archives in the U.S. and European countries, we need not worry about the possibility of lower participation rates in Japan.

What Happens When an Inexperienced User Analyses the Data?

Some have pointed out the danger of letting others analyze the data than those who planned and implemented the research. They fear that the secondary users may derive wrong conclusions from the same data. We do not believe this would be the case in Japan as it is not outside Japan. However, it is true that secondary analysis always requires careful attention. To help guard users against misuse of the data, we provide them not only with the necessary information but also with instructions so that they will fully understand the research substance and methods before they begin analysis.

Does Depositing Require Much Time and Energy?

Some depositors may be concerned that their time and energy may be taken up, converting data files, answering questions from the users, and doing other tasks. The only thing you have to do with your files is to copy and send them to the SSJDA since the Archive converts your files. And the SSJDA answers the vast majority of the questions. We may need to ask you questions in order to organize your data correctly, but that should not take much time away from you.

Data with Confidential Ingredients Cannot Be Deposited, Can They?

Some surveys may contain items which can not be made open for privacy or business reasons. In such cases, the SSJDA makes user files carefully so that they do not contain the confidential information. Therefore, please do not think that your entire data set is not suitable for deposit simply because some of its portion can never be made open.

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