Learn how to manage requests for information and protect confidentiality

Updated January 2013

1.   Policy Statement

Staff members of the Research Technologies Division of UITS – a Cyberinfrastructure and Service Center affiliated with the Pervasive Technology Institute – as members of the IU community all adhere to all IU policies related to confidentiality. These policies are accessible from, and policy IT-07 (Privacy of Electronic Information and Information Technology Resources - speaks to this issue in particular.

As members of the IU community, it is also important that staff of Research Technologies (RT) and the IU User Community (Users) explain what they are doing – at least in general terms – to the IU community and stakeholders within the State of Indiana and US. In order to manage the multiple demands dealing with justifiable requests for information and needs in some cases to protect confidentiality, RT staff will adhere to the following policy:

  • RT Staff will seek University Counsel guidance if ever served with a legal document demanding information of any sort, and proceed as advised by University Counsel.
  • Research Technologies provides services to all members of the Indiana University Community. Doing so generally requires recording user names in an internal trouble ticket system. We do not proactively disseminate information about work with specific IU researchers or users of our services. In general, except when responding to a legal action and under the advice of IU Counsel or other individuals authorized to request information about computing activities within IU by relevant IU policies (e.g., or in the case of the Advanced Biomedical Information Technology Core, disclosing this information as part of the annual IUSM Core review process as required by IU policy).   We do not disclose the identity of individuals we have worked with and assisted.  We will sometimes ask a particular individual or lab if we can feature information.  We will not offer support to a member of the IU User Community if asked to do so confidentially – that is, to deny working with or offering help to that member of the IU community
  • Review committees. When serving as a reviewer or in any other advisory role for a federal, state, or other organization, the organization operating the review typically has clear confidentiality policies. Anyone who participates in such reviews is expected to understand and abide by the policies relevant to any particular activity they are engaged in with an outside entity.
  • Protected Health Information (PHI). Many RT staff are involved in handling PHI. Confidentiality is to be strictly maintained; RT staff will at all times adhere to IU policies regarding the protection of electronic personal health information in accordance with HIPAA and other relevant regulations. This includes maintaining in strictest confidence whether or not a personal health record occurs within the IU system for a particular individual.
  • Press-sensitive information. News is newsworthy because it is not generally known. RT staff are expected to keep confidentiality about matters that either are clearly going to be subject of press releases or may reasonably be expected to be (e.g. major acquisitions or partnerships in particular). Press releases, no matter who or what organization they are to be released by,  are by definition confidential until they are released through official channels.
  • For extended consultations (see  “Research Technologies –Policy on prioritization of work” at the following special considerations apply:
    • It is a requirement of receipt of extended consulting work from RT that recipients of this support provide listings of any technical, peer-reviewed articles the completion of which was aided in some way by the extended consultation, and RT publishes lists of these citations to document the impact of its support.
    • It is a requirement of receipt of extended consulting work from RT that recipients provide at least a general title for the research project (this may be very general to protect sensitive or potentially valuable intellectual property), and that this information and very general status information on such extended consultations be included in annual reports published by Research Technologies (RT) and / or published in technical reports. The general status information includes whether the consultation is completed or ongoing, and a very general categorization of the amount of effort invested by RT in the consultation. Current categories are: 4 hours – 1 week; 1 week – 1 month; > 1 month.  
    • RT staff may request from users of its services information about projects, including images, to use in talks or publications. Credit for such information will always be properly credited and acknowledged to original authors and co-authors.
    • When working under funding from state or federal agencies, or under a contract from an external organization, RT staff will comply with the confidentiality policies associated with such grant awards and contracts.
    • RT staff will routinely include information about use of its services aggregated by academic department, school, or campus and will do so in ways that do not disclose the identities of recipients of services or the levels of resource. The ABITC as a Core of the IU School of Medicine and the Indiana CTSI is required to collect and report the following information :
      • Researcher Name
      • Researcher Title and Rank
      • Department
      • E-mail Address
      • Campus Address
      • Project Name
      • Project Abstract
      • Start Date
      • Estimated End Date
      • Funding Agency
      • Grant Number
      • Total Budget
    • The ABITC reports the above information only to the above two institutions, and to RT.
    • RT staff may refer to or quote from publically available information regarding research supported by RT (e.g. citations to grant awards supported in some way by ABITC/RT).
    • Outside of the university, RT staff will maintain strict confidentiality about the nature of the research they are supporting and the nature of their interactions with researchers, with the exception that they may repeat information publically disclosed via traditional academic means.

2.   Relationship to Empowering People

This policy supports achievement of the following Empowering People Actions:

  • Recommendation A1
    • Action 4: Cyberinfrastructure. IU should continue to advance its local cyberinfrastructure, participation in national cyberinfrastructure, and its efforts to win federal funding of cyberinfrastructure programs that enhance IU’s research capabilities. (RT leads)
    • Action 5: Philosophy of abundance. IU should pursue strategies that approximate a philosophy of abundance, within reason, towards unmetered availability of basic IT services, support, and infrastructure for creative activity, storage, computation, communication, and other activities fundamental to the work of the university via any appropriate sourcing strategy. (EI leads; RT supporting)
    • Action 6: Leveraging partnerships. IU should continue its highly successful program of relationships with hardware, software, and services vendors, and seek additional partnerships and creative exchanges that provide mutual benefits. (S leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation A4
    • Action 16: External funding. OVPIT should continue to lead and expand its efforts to effectively partner with academic units, campuses, administrative units, or individual investigators for external funding opportunities. (PTI leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation A7
    • Action 25: Research into IT. IU should support and pursue research into information technology itself. IT professionals and faculty should seek partnership opportunities for scholarly publication and invention disclosure that document meritorious research and discovery. (PTI leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation C15
    • Action 70: IT-enabled research. IU should purposefully select areas of great and timely promise for strategic development of IT-enabled research, scholarship, and/or creative activity. (PTI leads)
    • Action 71: IT-enabled research resources. IU should identify a base of resources to provide both initial and sustained investments in selected areas for IT-enabled research, scholarship, and/or creative activity. This may include reallocating current resources and developing new ones, including endowments, grants, and/or additional fees. (RT leads)

3.   Policy approved by

Craig A. Stewart, Associate Dean, Research Technologies

William K. Barnett, Director, Science Community Tools, Research Technologies

Ganesh Shankar, Manager, Advanced Biomedical Information Technology Core