This guidance discusses the research provisions in the UK GDPR and the DPA 2018 in detail. It is aimed at DPOs and those with specific data protection responsibilities in organisations undertaking research, archiving or processing for statistical purposes.
It provides guidance on how these provisions work and sets out our understanding of the provisions’ key terms.
It explains how the provisions relate to the data protection principles and grounds for processing. It also details the exemptions set out in the provisions. It summarises the key points you need to know and answers frequently asked questions.
In places, the guidance provides examples to illustrate how a specific provision might apply. These are not fully-worked case studies and do not address every aspect of regulatory compliance that organisations are subject to.
Many research projects are very complex, involving multiple organisations often in different countries. It is likely that you are subject to a range of regulatory requirements, depending on your sector and your type of research-related activity. This guidance does not cover all of these issues.
This guidance focusses specifically on the use of the research provisions. We are not presenting this guidance as a comprehensive guide to data protection compliance for researchers. You should therefore read this guidance in conjunction with other ICO guidance, as well as sectoral guidance if available.
For broader guidance on data protection compliance, see our Guide to Data Protection.
Further reading - responses to the ICO's consultation
In February 2022, we launched a public consultation on the draft detailed guidance on the research provisions in the UK GDPR and the DPA 2018. You can read a summary of responses to the consultation and the ICO's comments here.
About this guidance on the research provisions
What is research-related processing?
- What is research-related processing?
- What is archiving in the public interest?
- What are some indicative criteria for archiving in the public interest?
- What is scientific or historical research?
- What are some indicative criteria for scientific or historical research?
- What is processing for statistical purposes?
- What are some indicative criteria for processing for statistical purposes?
Principles and grounds for processing
- What do the data protection principles say about research?
- What does the purpose limitation principle say about research?
- Do we need a new lawful basis?
- What if our original processing was based on consent?
- What does the storage limitation principle say about research?
- What lawful basis should we use when processing personal data for research-related purposes?
- What about consent?
- What is the research condition for processing special category data?
- What is the research condition for processing criminal offence data?
- What does ‘necessary’ mean?
- When is research-related processing ‘in the public interest’?
- What should we take into account when applying these exemptions?
- What is the exception to the right to be informed?
- What is the exemption from the right of access?
- What is the exemption from the right to rectification?
- What is the exception to the right to erasure?
- What is the exemption from the right to restrict processing?
- What is the archiving exemption from the right to data portability?
- What is the exemption from the right to object?