CANDIDATE: A tool for generating anonymous participant-linking IDs in multi-session studies
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionPLOS ONE. 2021, . https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0260569
Background: To ensure the privacy of participants is an ethical and legal obligation for researchers. Yet, achieving anonymity can be technically difficult. When observing participants over time one needs mechanisms to link the data from the different sessions. Also, it is often necessary to expand the sample of participants during a project. Objectives: To help researchers simplify the administration of such studies the CANDIDATE tool is proposed. This tool allows simple, unique, and anonymous participant IDs to be generated on the fly. Method: Simulations were used to validate the uniqueness of the IDs as well as their anonymity. Results: The tool can successfully generate IDs with a low collision rate while maintaining high anonymity. A practical compromise between integrity and anonymity was achieved when the ID space is about ten times the number of participants. Implications: The tool holds potential for making it easier to collect more comprehensive empirical evidence over time that in turn will provide a more solid basis for drawing reliable conclusions based on research data. An open-source implementation of the tool that runs locally in a web-browser is made available.