On Wednesday, March 1st, Anna Harris was invited to give a FAIR Coffee Lecture at the Institute of Data Science. Her presentation was called “Sensory Data Stories: the role of sensory methods in addressing de-contextualisation in qualitative data reuse”. Anna discussed the uncommon practice of sharing qualitative data for reuse, which is ethically, legally, practically, politically, and methodologically complex. She argued that in some situations ethically sound qualitative data sharing is desirable and that we should explore the possibilities of sharing this data with care.
During the presentation, Anna explored creative ways to respect participants, their work, and field relations while sharing material that could be meaningful to other researchers through examples drawn from the Making Clinical Sense project. First, Anna introduced others’ experiments with creating ethnographic archives, such as Kraus and Eberhand (2022) and the Sisters of Hope artistic project. Then, she introduced new formats to expand existing toolkits for addressing the “problem” of decontextualisation of data. Anna mentioned that data stories are currently used to help contextualize datasets, often taking the form of a short text accompanying the README file or a visual diagram. However, she argued, to expand this toolkit in a way that respects interlocuters’ privacy we could explore sensory and multimodal methods like video, sounds, photography, drawing, and other methods to give the dataset “texture”.
This discussion was of much interest to ethnographers, qualitative researchers, and other scientists looking to share datasets in a meaningful way.