The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Excellence

Getting to grips with data

After a number of high profile data breaches, at companies like Facebook, Equifax and British Airways, and with GDPR continuing to make ripples across many industries, it may have been welcome news that Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet, has stepped into the fray with a new invention that promises to give people more control of their data.

The new, open-source technology, named Solid, allows people to store their data in one central location, where they can decide what they want to share with which companies and sites. The goal is to empower people and remove the need for personal data to be held by various third party companies.

Could this, or a technology like this, be the answer to the ongoing problems of repeat and fraudulent participants?

It’s been considered before; our company developed a system to monitor research participation and identify fake identities, but it’s only ever effective if we’re the exclusive supplier because different field agencies have different systems — or none at all. A shared platform of participants who’ve opted in would limit this but such an approach would require more than a revolution in technology — it would need a revolution in thinking, too.


Gemma Shevlin
Operations Director, Acumen Fieldwork

This article was first published in InBrief magazine, December 2018
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2018