Does the survey collect any identifying information?
SmartSurvey surveys automatically collect participants’ IP addresses for every response, including partial responses, to help identify malicious activity. I remove the IP addresses from survey responses before publishing them. Anyone with access to the data via the SmartSurvey account (see below) would have access to IP addresses, which could reveal a participant’s approximate location.
The survey itself asks participants whether or not they live in the United Kingdom, and this question is compulsory. This is because in addition to the worldwide annual report I sometimes also produce a UK-specific report. Each year there are thousands of participants from the UK, so this information could not be used to identify an individual participant.
The survey also asks people for their age, split into 5-year groups, e.g. “20-25”. This question is optional.
The survey does not ask for or automatically collect names or email addresses. Sometimes people enter identifying information such as names and email addresses into textboxes (e.g. feedback, identity words), despite being warned that all responses will be made public. I redact this identifying information as best I can, but with tens of thousands of responses it is possible that I will not catch everything.
Who has access to the data?
Before the results are published:
- Cassian – that’s me. I run the Gender Census.
- SmartSurvey – the survey software and hosting company I use to run the survey every year. (Read more about their security here.)
- Andréa – she needs to log into the Gender Census SmartSurvey account to tweak the code.
When I publish the results as a report I also publish all individual survey responses as a spreadsheet via Google Drive, so that others can verify and analyse the data. This public version of the spreadsheet of responses has IP addresses removed.
Can I edit or remove my response after I have submitted it?
If you have entered something particularly distinctive or unique into a textbox and you can tell me approximately when you submitted the survey I may be able to find your entry and remove it. Please be aware that I would then be able to associate your survey responses with your identity. If you would like to ask me to find and remove your submission you can email me at email@example.com.
However, if your answers are not unique I will not be able to single out your survey response to remove it.
If after the spreadsheet of responses has been published you notice that your accidentally-entered identifying information has been overlooked and you would like me to remove it, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. However, I cannot remove your details from the private files of anyone who has already downloaded the public spreadsheet of responses.
Where is the data stored?
Every response, including partial responses, is stored on SmartSurvey servers from the moment you check the consent boxes on the first page of the survey. It can be accessed by anyone with access to the Gender Census SmartSurvey account (see above).
While the survey is still open I start putting completed responses only into a private spreadsheet on Google Sheets. At this stage I remove IP addresses and start to remove identifying information that has been entered accidentally.
After the survey is closed, I publish all completed survey responses with the final report, as a spreadsheet on Google Sheets.
How is the data used?
It’s impossible to say for sure, since once it’s published I only know how people are using it if they decide to tell me. I keep a list of projects, dissertations, etc. that use the Gender Census results here.