Facilitating Access to Restricted Data

Operationalizing Trust in Data Users

  • Allison Rae Bobyak Tyler


The decision to allow users access to restricted and protected data is based on the development of trust in the user by data repositories. In this article, I propose a model of the process of trust development at restricted data repositories, a model which emphasizes the increasing levels of trust dependent on prior interactions between repositories and users. I find that repositories develop trust in their users through the interactions of four dimensions – promissory, experience, competence, and goodwill – that consider distinct types of researcher expertise and the role of a researcher’s reputation in the trust process. However, the processes used by repositories to determine a level of trust corresponding to data access are inconsistent and do not support the sharing of trusted users between repositories to maximize efficient yet secure access to restricted research data. I highlight the role of a researcher’s reputation as an important factor in trust development and trust transference, and discuss the implications of modelling the restricted data access process as a process of trust development.

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