[SLED] Seeking advice on anonymizing research data from Second Life

O Riordan,Niamh NORiordan at BISMAIL.UCC.IE
Wed Aug 11 02:45:35 PDT 2010

Dear Sledders, 

I have conducted a series of qualitative case studies involving Second Life
educators. These cases were of real life educational institutions using
Second life for educational projects. 

I am still (and depressingly slowly) analyzing this data but I have to make
decisions now about how I will approach anonymity with the case data. 

I can see that I can attempt to keep the cases fully anonymous: I identify
neither the institution, nor the individuals nor the avatars involved. Of
course, there will still be issues about whether the cases can be identified
from their descriptions but I could discuss this on a case by base basis
with the respondents to reach a point where they are satisfied that the data
is reasonably anonymous. At the other end of the spectrum, I can attempt to
seek permission to fully identify the avatars, real life individuals and
organizations concerned. In the middle, there are various half way houses
here where I could identify individuals and/or avatars and/or real life
organizations. Depending on how individuals involved in different cases have
dealt with the issue of avatar identity, these choices would impact
anonymity to varying degrees. 

I would like to avoid a discussion of the pros and cons of avatar identity
for educators per se (there is already an interesting thread on this at

But I am wondering if people who have already gone through this kind of
process to publish could offer any advice or if people are aware of specific
recommendations within the literature that I could use to design my approach
to this issue. 

With thanks and warm wishes,
RL: Niamh O Riordan / SL: Logos Sohl
PhD Candidate, Business Information Systems
University College Cork, 

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