Topic outline

  • If you are conducting interviews/surveys and collect data from or of persons, you may be collecting personal data. 

    Personal data is all data relating to an identified or identifiable natural person, such as name, social security number, home address, telephone number, e-mail address, video image, voice of a person, IP-address, location data of a person or a combination data from which a person can be recognized (e.g. occupation and place of residence).

    The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is applied as of 25 May 2018 in all of the EU member states as the GDPR is the applicable legislation as such and applies to all processing of personal data.

    How to handle personal data in the project (if conducting interviews/surveys)?

    • Individuals can be identified by other data than their names. Thus, simply deleting the names and other identifying data will not always render all data in a personal data file anonymous.
    • If you are conducting interviews/surveys and collect data from or of persons, plan what data you need.
    • Think about what data you need and also what data you do not need. Is it necessary to collect personal data? Think of how you can design your study so that your data is least identifiable while still accomplishing your goals.
    • Anonymized data are no longer considered to constitute personal data and are not subject to data protection regulations.
    • Whether an individual data item can be considered anonymous or not requires case-by-case evaluation. Therefore, it is recommended that you will send the following privacy notice to the interviewee even if you do not aim to collect personal data. The customized template for the Capstone course can be found here in English and in Finnish. Please fill in your project specific information to the parts that are highlighted in yellow and send it to the interviewee before the interview. It's recommended that you anonymize (see the last bullet) or pseudonymize the interview results (e.g. Company A, person 1) when writing notes of the interviews, and report the findings in the final report and presentation anonymously (see #4 in the privacy notice; if it's not possible to pseudonymize the findings or report them anonymously it needs to be changed to the privacy notice accordingly).
    • Please also send the consent to participate (English or Finnish) to the interviewee with the privacy notice. It is enough if the interviewee states orally that they agree to participate in the interview so no need to print, sign and scan it. If you wish to record the interview, you need to ask the interviewee's oral permission to do so before starting the recording.
    • The material containing personal information (also pseudonymized information is considered personal information) should be stored on the researcher's personal computer or on the Aalto OneDrive or Google Drive platforms but not on the free cloud platform, e.g. free OneDrive. Store it only in one place. 
    • In most Capstone projects, the purpose of the interviews is to gain a general understanding of the phenomenon, not to identify which interviewee said what. Therefore, you can anonymize the interview notes, after which it is no longer personal data and can be shared among the team via email or stored in public cloud server. E.g. "Finnish corporate tax level is deemed less attractive than that of Luxemburg" is anonymous. However, if it is important to understand who stated this, then use pseudonymized data in your notes, such as "Interviewee 1 from company A stated that the Finnish corporate tax level is less attractive than that of Luxemburg". Please note that pseudonymized data is considered as personal data because it can be associated with a person. It thus needs to be treated as personal data (see previous bullet).

    Please contact your facilitator and Perttu ( if you have any questions and we will help you further.

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