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Research participants

Research participants

How we use your information

The purpose of this notice is to tell you how the University will process personal data gathered by researchers and processed for the purposes of carrying out research in the public interest.

The University of Exeter (the University) is a data controller and will only process your personal data in accordance with the University’s data protection notice and in accordance with the current Data Protection legislation (which includes the Data Protection Act 1998 or, from the date it comes into force, the General Data Protection Regulation). Details of the University’s Data Protection Officer can be found on our website, who can be contacted by emailing

Given the complexity and variety of the relationships that the University has with the many individuals whose data it processes, it is not possible to set out an exhaustive list of all the ways in which your personal data may be processed by the University for research purposes here. However, for each individual research project involving the collection of personal data, the research team will provide detailed participant information which will explain the processing of your personal data and which, if any, third parties your personal data may be shared with.

Research teams will only keep your personal data for as long as necessary, bearing in mind the purposes for which your personal data is collected, and will explain clearly how long your data will be kept for each project. Further general information on how long the University will keep data is also available on the University Retention Schedule.

This notice may be updated from time to time to ensure continued compliance with current legislation and to reflect best practice.

The type of personal data and sensitive personal data the University may process about you for research may include (but is not restricted to):

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • contact details
  • physical or mental health condition or history
  • personal circumstances
  • sexual life
  • racial or ethnic origin
  • political opinions
  • religious or similar beliefs
  • DNA samples
  • physiological data

For each research project involving the collection of personal and sensitive personal data, a description of the data being collected and its processing by the University will be provided to research participants.

Your personal data is collected by the University to enable the University to carry out research in the public interest. The University collects your personal data from the following sources, only as required for the purposes of each research project and with any necessary regulatory approvals in place:

  • From individual research participants
  • From those caring for or associated with individual research participants
  • From service provider records (such as the NHS)

Here are some of the ways we will use your personal data, this is not exhaustive, but is intended to provide you with an idea of the things that we may do throughout your relationship with the University.

  • For research data analysis
  • To maintain participant safety, dignity and wellbeing
  • In publications or resources for research, education or public engagement purposes
  • To maintain data for use in future research projects or research archives 

Under the Legislation you can request that such processing should not occur. You may choose not to take part or to withdraw from a research project at any time and, in this instance, the University research team would advise you of any implications for your consideration.

Some of the personal data the University processes about you will be 'sensitive personal data'. This category of personal data will be subject to additional protections. Sensitive personal data is defined as information about your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or similar beliefs, trade union membership, physical or mental health or condition, sexual life, or commission of or proceedings for any offence committed or alleged to have been committed by you.

This information may be processed for one of the reasons set out above for the purposes of research undertaken in the public interest.

In addition, this sensitive personal data may be collected to meet government requirements, to monitor our equal opportunities policies and to ensure that under-represented groups receive appropriate support. This information may also be collected and retained for statistical purposes.

In processing your personal data and/or sensitive personal data, the University may have reason to share your personal data and/or sensitive personal data with a third party, some of these circumstances are as follows:

  • Members of a research team who are not employed by or studying at the University of Exeter
  • Other researchers for use in future research
  • Healthcare, social care or emergency services where, for example, there is a concern about the safety of a research participant
  • Regulators, government departments or other relevant authority

You have a number of rights in relation to your personal data. Information about what these rights are and how to exercise them is available on our data protection webpages

The University will endeavour to be transparent about its processing of your personal data. However, should you have any queries about the University’s processing of your personal data, further information may be obtained from the Information Governance Manager by emailing or on our data protection webpages.

If you think that any of your personal data held by the University is incorrect (for example if you move address and the University has your old address), please let us know so that we can update our records accordingly. You have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner if you have any concerns in respect of the handling of your personal data by the University.

Updated: April 2018