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Research confidentiality and integrity

Adopted: July 1, 2016
Updated: December 29, 2022

Education Futures LLC conducts research to increase general knowledge, improve public policy, train the next generation of thought leaders, and improve data collection methods. We collect data for the general good and for academic, non-profit, and government clients. Human subject research in our work often involves surveys, questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups. Our research most often involves no more than minimal risk to subjects.

We adhere to commonly accepted standards regarding the rights of human subjects, in particular:

Respondent confidentiality

Data that we collect is always subject to the rules of confidentiality set out by Education Futures LLC and its partner institutions that protect the rights of persons who participate in research. No results may be shared that link individual respondent identities to the content of the data they supplied unless respondents agree to this. Normally Education Futures LLC will maintain all identifying and contact information required for data collection separately from the data themselves and will destroy contact information at the end of the data collection period. Exceptions include contact information retained over time for longitudinal studies, information retained at the request of the respondent for participation in future studies, and contact information related to receipts and accounting that has no link to individual studies. We typically supply clients with data separated from individual contact information.

Anonymous surveys and confidential surveys

We assure you that participant responses in surveys designated as anonymous are completely anonymous. Responses to anonymous surveys cannot be traced back to the respondent. No personally identifiable information is captured unless a participant voluntarily offers personal or contact information through the research instrument.

Confidential surveys may collect personally-identifiable information for further analysis. In both anonymous and confidential survey research, individual responses are combined with those of many others and summarized in our reporting to further protect the anonymity of each respondent.

Training and oversight

Staff members are trained in the protection of human subjects in research and the importance of preserving the confidentiality of all respondents in all data collection. This is a commitment we take very seriously. Education Futures LLC primary investigators are required to obtain Ph.D.-level, institutional research board training and/or certification prior to engaging in any study on behalf of Education Futures LLC. Research assistants are supervised closely by permanent staff and reminded regularly of confidentiality precautions. All persons not employed directly by Education Futures LLC are only allowed in our space when accompanied by a staff person.

Protecting identities

When we conduct focus groups, interviews, observational work or qualitative work including transcriptions or field notes, notes and transcripts are dis-identified. This means that names are not associated with responses and that references to named people, places or things that might identify a participant are removed or made “generic.”

In the course of certain idea- and action-generative research activities (e.g., World Café sessions), we may take photographs of participants after obtaining their permission. In the selection of photographs for reporting, all efforts are made to disassociate individuals from specific ideas illustrated. Furthermore, under no circumstance will we identify an individual by name in a photograph from such an activity.

Data on paper

Data collected on paper are stored securely when not in current use and are destroyed securely. When projects are completed, personally-identifiable information required for data collection are destroyed securely for confidentiality purposes. Data collected on paper may be archived digitally for use in future research or for compliance with regulations that govern data retention for clients.

Electronic data

Whenever possible, Education Futures LLC uses its in-house suite of tools for data collection and storage. Electronic data are kept in one or multiple the following secure systems:

  1. A shared, network drive on one of the servers maintained and serviced by Education Futures LLC. Access to files is limited to employees only.
  2. A server hosted in a data center, secured physically, technologically, and through human measures. Data stored on Education Futures LLC Web server are protected through sets of firewall rules that govern access to the server’s network adapters—each minimalized to its specific function. The only types of network traffic that the server accepts are HTTPS (encrypted Web protocol) and SSH (secure shell access).

We strive to ensure all your communications with us remain private and secure through industry-leading practices. All unsecured HTTP traffic to educationfutures.com is automatically re-routed to the secured HTTPS channel, and the HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) policy mechanism is deployed to protect against protocol downgrade attacks and cookie hijacking. Research data transferred online use a TLS connection with the highest commonly supported bit encryption possible and RSA as the key exchange mechanism. Browser-trusted SSL/TLS certificates are issued with short lifetimes to limit potential damage in case encryption keys should become compromised. A strict Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) policy is implemented to prevent email spoofing by unauthorized parties.

An internal audit conducted on July 30, 2019, found the use of our SSL/TLS protocol set complies with HIPAA and NIST guidelines regarding technologies and methodologies that render protected information unusable, unreadable, or Indecipherable to unauthorized individuals. Findings from this audit are limited to services provided through the educationfutures.com and its subdomains. To ensure the highest level of TLS encryption available is used, clients are urged to use a modern, up-to-date Web browser to transact with this service.

Get in touch with us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us by email: hello@educationfutures.com.