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The confidentiality plan, usually included as part of the overall data collection plan, details the steps that will be taken to ensure that the data, once collected, are not shared inappropriately. Social science evaluation often involves matters that may be personally sensitive. Mental health and substance abuse intervention studies, for example, may require the collection of information about participants' history with mental health or substance use problems, the extent of their problems, as well as information about their families and spouses.

In most research, assuring confidentiality is only a matter of following some routine practices: substituting codes for identifiers, removing face sheets (containing such items as names and addresses) from survey instruments containing data, properly disposing of computer sheets and other papers, limiting access to identified data, impressing on the research staff the importance of confidentiality, and storing research records in locked cabinets. In some studies, more elaborate procedures may be needed—either to give subjects the confidence they need to participate and answer questions honestly, or to enable researchers to offer strong, truthful assurances of confidentiality. Such elaborate procedures may be particularly necessary for studies in which data are collected on sensitive matters such as sexual behavior or criminal activities.

It is important to maintain strict confidentiality at all times. Any information collected from or about participants must not be divulged to others without permission, and data must be safely and securely maintained and stored.

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