If you plan only to collect the information (for example, in a survey) and there is no need for individuals to identify themselves, then this may not be considered "personal information" under privacy legislation. However, if the information can be linked to individuals' contact information or if their responses could reveal their identity, then treat it as personal information.
If you intend to collect personal information directly from research participants, you must be provided with appropriate notification of the intended use of their information for the research before they give their informed consent. If instead the information is obtained from a public body or private sector organization, the you must speak with the organization about completing a research agreement as required in the applicable privacy legislation. The agreement will confirm the steps you must take to protect the personal information while it is under your control.
A research participant must be notified before they give their consent if his or her personal information gathered during the research will be linked with other information about the participant that is contained in public or personal records. As well, the participant must be notified in advance of consent of any known uses of his or her information. Should you choose to use the personal information for other purposes, you must first contact the participants to obtain their permission for the new use.
Best practices for the use of personal information in research include: