Q: Can I use government organizational data available online for data analysis?
I am trying to extract customer electricity consumption data from a government website. I will scrape only their electricity usage, not any sensitive data. Eventually, I plan to publish my analysis in some journal. What are the legal troubles that I could face in the worst case?
Hello. Thanks for your query. We have shared this with our data/ethics expert, and shall get back to you as early as possible.
Unfortunately, we cannot comment on legal issues; please seek the advice of a certified legal expert in your country. However, regardless of the volume or nature of the data used from the site, you must cite the source website and mention the date on which you accessed it (and also provide the URL). Additionally, it would be advisable to seek permission to use the data in your study. Using such data without acknowledging its source is tantamount to claiming credit for it yourself, and this would be highly unethical.
For more insights into matters of data and ethics, you may find it worthwhile to go through these previous queries by other researchers/academics:
- What are the rules for reusing data sets accompanying publications?
- My data and analysis were used unethically without my permission. What should I do?
Additionally, here’s a course that’s a primer on several matters related to research ethics: An overview of ethical issues in scientific research
Hope that helps. All the best!