Section 2: Excluding and Changing Information
At times, it may be appropriate to exclude or omit information from the research record. For example, if the participant discloses information that is unrelated to the study, this information can be excluded. Another example is when a participant writes in a response on a multiple-choice survey that is not one of the multiple-choice options. This information may also be excluded from the final data set. However, the decision to exclude or omit information should always be made with the full knowledge and understanding of the Principal Investigator and disclosed in any public presentation of the results of the study such as a presentation at a conference or a published paper.
Changing or altering information about a research participant or changing information that the research participant provides is never appropriate. Changing study information can seriously damage the credibility of the results.
Case Examples for Excluding and Changing Information
Here are two examples about when it is appropriate to exclude or change research information.
In a study on improving literacy skills, researchers developed a tutoring program at a public library. The researchers want to determine whether the tutoring helps the participants to obtain a job. Since the research is conducted at a public library, however, the researchers are required to offer the program to all individuals regardless of their employment status. Since the researchers are only interested in the effect of this program on unemployed individuals, the information collected from employed individuals is excluded.