Office of Human Research Ethics SOP 4301: Review Involving Data from Voice, Video, Digital or Image Recordings


Office of Human Research Ethics SOP 4301: Review Involving Data from Voice, Video, Digital or Image Recordings

1. Review Involving Data from Voice, Video, Digital or Image Recordings

If researchers wish to utilize data from voice, video, digital or image recordings, they must take a variety of special precautions. First, the researcher must obtain appropriate permissions from subjects who will not have their anonymity protected due to the very nature of the data being collected. The information or fact sheet and/or informed consent document must explain the intended use of the voice, video or image data, the provisions being taken for the storage of the data, and the means and timeline planned for the destruction of these data. Because of these unique constraints, researchers must take great care in authoring protocols in which the use of voice, video and image data are planned.

Certain studies involve the collection of voice, video and image data for the purpose of creating an archive or registry that will preserve the data indefinitely. In such cases, researchers will not make provisions for the destruction of data, and they should take care to inform participants of the archival nature of the data gathering performed in such a study.

1.1 PhotoVoice

Some researchers use a method of qualitative data collection in which participants take photographs of some aspect(s) of their lives, environment, or community. The photographs are then used as a basis for group discussions and to elicit important qualitative information about the photographers’ attitudes and beliefs. The degree of risk to subjects in such research depends, in part, on what is photographed. For example, this process may pose the risk of self- incrimination to subjects who photograph themselves taking part in certain activities.

From the perspective of the IRB, the “human subjects” in the research are the research participants who are taking the photographs and then presenting their interpretations in group or other data gathering sessions. If the photographers are minors, then written parental consent for their participation in the research is required, along with assent of the child participant.

Although the individuals whose photos are taken are not the subjects of the research, there may be legal requirements for obtaining permission for using their photographs. If the photographers take photos of other people, then written permission to use the photo should be obtained. If the person being photographed is a minor, then written permission to take the photo must be obtained from the child’s parent or guardian. Those being photographed must be informed about how their photo will be used, and whether they will have the opportunity to view the photo before making a final decision about its use. If the photographs will be publicly displayed, such as at a professional meeting or community gathering, or used in manuals or brochures or other publications, then written consent to take and display the photograph publicly is required. Researchers must have a method to link pictures with the signed permission forms.

Contact Information

Policy Contact

Office of Human Research Ethics
CB 7097
720 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Bldg # 385, Second Floor
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7097

Ph: 919-966-3113
Fax: 919-966-7879


Article ID: 132261
Thu 4/8/21 9:27 PM
Fri 9/30/22 4:58 PM
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06/02/2017 12:00 AM
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Vice Chancellor
Last Review
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06/02/2017 12:00 AM
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06/02/2017 12:00 AM
Next Review
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07/01/2025 12:00 AM
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06/02/2017 12:00 AM
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Research-IRB and Human Research Ethics