Evaluating Risk

Evaluating Risk

What is risk?

The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2023) defines risk as a potential for harms, discomforts and/or inconvenience for participants and/or others. It involves:

  • The likelihood that a harm (or discomfort or inconvenience) will occur; and
  • The severity of the harm, including its consequences.

Risk of harm or discomfort can apply to individual research participants, groups or communities, as well as to non-participants such as family members. Risk can be associated with the conduct of research or the proposed outcomes of the research.


The most common risk associated with data linkage is the risk to privacy. The seriousness of the risks associated with the use of personal information will be affected by the degree of identifiability of the information. According to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2023), identifiability exists on a continuum. Researchers need to consider how likely it is that the identity of individuals can be ascertained from the information involved in a project. Element 4: Collection, Use and Management of Data and Information contained in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2023) addresses ethical issues related to generation, collection, access, use, analysis, disclosure, storage, retention, disposal, sharing and re-use of data or information.

Useful resources

Researchers should be guided by information compiled by Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and its state and territory equivalents, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the , in tandem with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2023)