University of Greenwich: Face and Voice Recognition Lab
Volunteer Participant Pool Database: Ethics Information
Note: More information about the nearly 50,000 members of the volunteer participant pool database can be found here.
General ethical principles
Professor Josh P Davis is a Chartered Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and is therefore bound to follow BPS ethics policy (https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/bps-code-ethics-and-conduct). He is also a member of staff of the University of Greenwich and all projects are approved by the University of Greenwich Research Ethics Committee (UREC) (https://www.gre.ac.uk/research/governance-and-awards/research-ethics-committee), although collaborations with other universities may first be approved by their ethics board and noted by UREC.
All research data stored by the University of Greenwich is retained on a password protected database, and is compliant with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements, tailored by the Data Protection Act 2018 (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/) and the University of Greenwich data protection policy (https://docs.gre.ac.uk/rep/vco/data-protection-policy).
The University of Greenwich will not share any details (e.g., test scores to another university) about anyone with any organisation unless participants provide explicit consent each time, and that this has been approved by the other university’s ethics committee and UREC.
If your data is stored by us and you wish us to delete your data and/or stop sending you e-mails, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We would need your anonymous code and/or e-mail address to identify your data.
Data protection and anonymous codes
Please note due to GDPR (and normal ethics processes) we are only allowed to store data that is freely consented to and has an express purpose (in other words, if there is no reason to store data we are not allowed to, and even if there is a good reason, data should not normally be identifiable). We should inform anyone whose data we store exactly how long and where we will store data.
Invite types: We may send you an invite to different types of research. There are three distinct types.
1. University of Greenwich Face and Voice Recognition volunteer participant database update: When we invite participants to contribute to research, we always make it clear in the e-mail invite, the information sheet, and the consent form whether we would like to store any of the data collected on the University of Greenwich Face and Voice Recognition volunteer participant database. If this request is not explicitly included in the information flow, we will ensure that your data are fully anonymised when saved for long term storage (i.e. on an open access website such as OSF: https://help.osf.io/hc/en-us/articles/360019737894-FAQs).
We often use the test scores saved on the database to provide an indication of a participant’s face recognition ability to include in future research. By saving test scores in this manner, we do not need to ask participants to take the same series of tests, each time they contribute to research. This saves valuable time. In addition, taking tests multiple times tends to improve scores. The first attempt on a test, when all participants are naïve to requirements is probably the most reliable when attempting to assess ability, and it is this score we aim to retain in long-term storage. If participants report a problem (internet crash, distraction), we normally allow a second attempt.
How can I spot Type 1 invites? With Type 1 projects, invites, information forms, and consent forms will explicitly request consent to access specific listed test scores from the database, by use of the anonymous code. Here is a typical example.
“We would also like to store your score on the Kent Face Matching Test on our volunteer database. We will ask for your informed consent in the appropriate section.“
2. Research in which participants enter anonymous codes: If we e-mail a participant and the e-mail contains the anonymous code which we ask them to enter at the start of the project, it means we wish to use some of the test scores stored on the University of Greenwich Face and Voice Recognition volunteer participant database in the research. The e-mail, information sheet, and consent form will describe which data we will transfer into the research dataset and why.
Importantly, because there is no justification to identity someone in most research, we normally anonymise most research data soon after initial analyses, so even if you entered our university issued anonymous code when completing a project, once we have matched up your past data and completed all analytical processes, we might not be able to identify your data. We will delete the anonymous code from all project records and the data will be fully anonymised and saved as codes such as P001, P002, P003 etc.
How can I spot Type 2 invites? With type 2 projects, invites, information forms, and consent forms will explicitly request consent to access specific listed test scores from the database, by use of the anonymous code. The same sources of information will refer to anonymisation of all data and provide estimated timelines for this. This is a typical invite.
“We would like permission to access your scores from the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT+), Glasgow Face Matching Test (GFMT), and Kent Face Matching Test (KFMT) on our database to include in the analyses. “
There is no mention of retaining data on the database. Unless this type of invite explicitly requests consent for storing any of the data on the University of Greenwich Face and Voice Recognition volunteer participant database, participants can be assured this will not happen.
3. Research that does not include an anonymous code in invite: We may invite participants and not include the anonymous code in the invite. The reason will be that there is no need to access any data from the University of Greenwich Face and Voice Recognition volunteer participant database. Indeed, in these projects, we often explicitly request that participants do not enter their anonymous code. This means that if you contribute to such a project, you can be absolutely assured, we would never be able to identify any participant contributing and your privacy will be assured.
How can I spot Type 3 invites? With type 3, invites, information forms, and consent forms often include the following caution
“Note: Participation is entirely voluntary. Professor Josh Davis and his team will not be aware if you contribute to this project or not. You should NOT enter your anonymous code, so that your privacy and anonymity are assured.“
How are data on the University of Greenwich Face and Voice Recognition volunteer participant database stored and invites processed?
There are nearly 50,000 members of our volunteer database (which has two parts) from all around the world. Each is only “identifiable” by a 9-digit anonymous code (e.g., A34567845, B00034672). In other words, they are not identifiable.
Our two databases are password protected and only Josh Davis and his research assistants have access. They are employees of the university and have signed appropriate contracts and have been trained in data protection. We change passwords regularly.
Database 1: E-mail addresses (which can contain names) of each volunteer are stored alongside the anonymous code in one database. There is no other information in this database. This database is kept separate from the second database to protect privacy.
Database 2: In the second database we retain scores on various face and voice recognition tests including those listed above. If voluntarily additionally provided: Gender, Ethnicity, Age (we update age each year automatically), Country. About 4/5 of participants have provided us with demographic information. This means we can target certain groups for specific research invites although this is rare.
Note – in database 2, we also retain information as to which recent projects participants have been invited to, so that we do not send out invites to the same volunteers over and over again or indeed, miss out any volunteers. However, we do not normally store information as to which research projects volunteers contributed to, unless we need to ensure they do not get invited to a later project. For instance, a project may require a series of different experiments. It might be important that participants do not contribute to more than one experiment in the series.
We sent everyone on the database an e-mail when GDPR came into law in 2018 to ensure they were happy with us retaining their data. Anyone not responding was removed.
At any time, volunteers can e-mail us to ask for their data to be removed.
We normally select a random group of participants on the database to receive an invite to any research project (sometimes, but rarely, based on specific inclusion criteria). From one database, we will generate a list of anonymous codes. This database then needs to be closed so that we can open the second database which contains e-mail addresses. We then match the anonymous codes to the list of e-mail addresses.
We then send batch e-mails using mail merge. The anonymous code, if required is always at the top of the e-mail. Occasionally we may send other information extracted from the database to the participants – for instance an update of information stored on the database.
Every e-mail contains the following information.
Important note: Remember that the University if Greenwich will not share any details (e.g. e-mails, test scores) about you with any organisation unless you provide explicit permission. All data stored by the University of Greenwich is retained on a password protected database, and is compliant with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements, tailored by the Data Protection Act 2018 (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/) and the University of Greenwich data protection policy (https://docs.gre.ac.uk/rep/vco/data-protection-policy).
If you wish us to delete your data and/or stop sending you e-mails, please contact email@example.com. Alternatively click on this link to ensure deletion of your data. https://greenwichuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3BHsjNjnqUiJZSR. Note: it normally takes up to 14 days for data to be deleted once we receive a request.
11. We normally send further “gentle reminder” invites (one only) to participants close to the deadline date. Extremely rarely, we may send more than one gentle reminder. This will be because numbers of participants contributing did not meet requirements.