Veracity and confidentiality

Veracity and Confidentiality

Veracity means that researchers should tell the truth and pass on information in a comprehensive and objective way. There may be a methodological reason for limited disclosure but this must be carefully justified. Confidentiality is also the subject of a considerable literature and legislation in the form of the Data Protection Act 1998. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with anonymity. The definitions used by the GCU Ethics Committee are given below:

  • Anonymity is the protection of the participant in a study so that even the researchers cannot link the subject with the information provided. (LoBiondo-Wood, 2002)
  • Confidentiality is the prevention of disclosure, to other than authorized individuals, of a participant's identity. (MRC, 1998)

Information obtained from and about a participant during an investigation is confidential unless otherwise agreed in advance. Investigators who are put under pressure to disclose confidential information should draw this point to the attention of those exerting the pressure. Participants in research have a right to expect that information they provide will be treated confidentially and, if published, will not be identifiable as theirs. In the event that confidentiality or anonymity cannot be guaranteed, the participant must be warned of this in advance of agreeing to participate. The duty of confidentiality is not absolute in law and may in exceptional circumstances be overridden by more compelling duties such as the duty to protect individuals from harm. Where a significant risk of such issues arising is identified in the risk assessment, specific procedures to be followed should be specified in the protocol.

Nursing Research.  Methods, Critical Appraisal and Utilization, 5th ed. Geri LoBiondo-Wood, Mosby, 2002. Available in GCU Library at 610.73072 L64
MRC Guidelines for Management of Global Health TrialsMRC 2017

These pages have been adapted from the GCU code of good practice in research, the GCU research ethics booklet, and the BPS code of human research ethics.