Ethical issues for data-arts projects

Working with data produces specific ethical considerations: these concern issues of power and representation in relation to the nature, collection, storage, analysis and application of the data. These considerations give rise to a number of questions about how existing and or new data is sought, handled and applied in data-arts practices:

  • What is the type of data?
  • How was it/will it be collected?
  • Who and what does/will the data concern or represent?
  • When collecting new data: How will issues of consent, confidentiality and anonymity be addressed?
  • Is the data accurate/reliable/biased?
  • How will it be stored?
  • How will it be analysed?
  • Will the data be presented?
  • Is it accessible/easy to comprehend?
  • Is it presented in context?
  • Is there clarity and transparency about what will happen to the data/how it will be handled and used?
  • What are the likely and potential impacts of using and sharing the data?
  • How will issues of privacy and ownership be addressed?
  • Will the data be available for others to work with? If so, how?

Does your data-arts project/activity support the development of data-literacy: does it help people to question assumptions about what data is, who owns it, what it is used for and what it means?



There are numerous ethical considerations to consider when working with young people. These are grounded by principles such as:

  • treating young people with respect
  • listening to their views and perspectives
  • acknowledging their knowledge and experience
  • being honest and transparent about what is happening
  • involving them in decision making when possible
  • offering clear, relevant, accessible information, support and advice.

Engaging in collaborative creative production with young people yields a further set of considerations, these include:

  • Issues of informed consent—do young people know and understand the purpose and implications of their participation, including how they/their work will be represented? Inclusiveness—who is included/excluded? How accessible is the process? Confidentiality and anonymity—what choices can young people make about their personal information and who it may be shared with?
  • Recognition and feedback—how is the young people’s participation acknowledged and respected?
  • Ownership — are expectations about who ‘owns’ the data/cultural work produced clear?
  • Social responsibility—who benefits from the work and how?

(Adapted from Bragg, S. (2007). Consulting Young People: a Review of the Literature. A Report for Creative Partnerships. Arts Council England.

For information about ethical issues relating to data-arts projects, see Data.