Sensitive Data in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Welcome to this course which will introduce you to concepts of Sensitive Data, the different ways in which data is used in Social Science and Humanities subjects, what constitutes sensitive data in these subjects, and how to manage Sensitive Data in the context of Open Research Practices, and specifically the European Open Science Cloud. Content in this course is also applicable to other research disciplines and for a general understanding of the concepts that are presented.

EOSC End-users

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Recognise what constitutes Sensitive Personal Data within the Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.
  • Understand how the GDPR determines the use of Sensitive Personal Data in the context of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).
  • Understand the best practices, including the FAIR Principles and Open research practices, in handling sensitive data in your own research (both data you produce and data you reuse).
  • Be aware of additional support, organisations and tools that are readily available to enhance your own research practices around Sensitive Data within the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

Course structure

This course should take you no longer than an hour to compete. It is divided into three main learning sections, outlined as follows;

Section 1 Introduces the 3 key concepts discussed throughout the course: Concept 1. Open Research Practices, Concept 2. European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and Concept 3. Personal and sensitive personal data including
The Research Data Alliance Sensitive Data Interest Group’s definition.
This section concludes with an important note on 'Nomenclature'.

Section 2
Introduces you to how scholars within the Social Sciences and
Humanities identify ‘data’, and what kinds of materials and resources
may be considered ‘sensitive data’ in these disciplines. It also
discusses the GDPR legislation and the impact this has had on the way in
which data is collected, stored and managed by researchers.

Section 3
Then continues to show more practical approaches to ensuring best
practice in handling sensitive data in the context of Open Science,
including the creation of data with Open Science in mind. It then
discusses the best practices and international efforts that have been
taken to ensure that sensitive data is used and reused responsibly.

For each section we have provided a range of supporting resources that you can use to broaden your knowledge of Sensitive Data in the Humanities and Social Sciences. These resources can be found in the supporting resources section and are signposted throughout. 

recommend you access them in your own time as points of reference to
further your learning, as opposed to the designated content throughout
the 3 main learning sections of the course itself. Within the supporting resources section you'll also find additional support in place to help researchers which we hope you will also find beneficial.


Prior to completing this course, you would benefit from first completing the EOSC in a nutshell and EOSC Portal courses, as well as the courses related to Open Research Practices. Links to both of these can be found in the supporting resources section.

Data Preservation
Research Data Management

Data Protection








Legal Issues


Open Science


Sensitive Data

Citizen scientists


Data stewards


Research communities


Research groups


Research managers


Research networks


Research organisations


Research projects






Narrative text






This course is always available. You can register at any time and you will have access to the course forever.
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