WashU faculty, staff, and students regularly generate data through research. Safeguarding these data is crucial to protecting the privacy of research participants, the intellectual property of WashU researchers, the security of WashU systems, and the public’s trust in WashU.

The Office of Information Security works with researchers, offering tools, services, and guidance to protect research, meet regulatory requirements, and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.

Guiding Principles

The CIA Triad: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability

The CIA Triad—Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability—is a guiding model in information security. A comprehensive information security strategy includes policies and security controls that minimize threats to these three crucial components.

The CIA triad guides the information security in a broad sense and is also useful for managing the products and data of research.

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Confidentiality refers to protecting information from unauthorized access.

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Integrity means data are trustworthy, complete, and have not been accidentally altered or modified by an unauthorized user.

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Availability means data are accessible when you need them.

What is Research?

Research is creative and systematic work undertaken to contribute to the stock of knowledge, test and evaluate existing understandings, or devise novel applications of existing knowledge.

There are different types of research aimed at achieving various goals. These include basic research, applied research, and development research. Definitions of each are available in our research glossary.

Research Data

Any information generated during the research process is considered “research data.” Research data are gathered using many different methods, which vary according to discipline and the nature of the research question. For example, a psychologist might generate research data by conducting a survey, an anthropologist by using video recording to document a cultural behavior, or a clinical researcher by collecting a biological specimen. All these activities, and many more, create research data.  

All research data, whether digital or physical, audio or video, raw or transformed, need to be protected from unauthorized access, use, and modification. As you create your research data management strategy, please remember to consider all the data involved in your research, from the very first bit of information recorded, to the final report or publication. Protect your data at every stage to ensure participant privacy, avoid tampering and loss, safeguard intellectual property, and meet regulatory requirements.

Research Data Security

The first step in developing a security strategy for your research is to know how your data are classified. Data classification, the process of categorizing data according to risk level, empowers you to select the right tools and services to protect your research.

Research Glossary

Information Security Glossary

Definitions of information security terms.