Should Researchers Destroy Audio or Video Recordings?

Ethics Hum Res. 2024 Mar-Apr;46(2):30-35. doi: 10.1002/eahr.500205.


It is a common practice in qualitative research to transcribe audio or video files from interviews or focus groups and then destroy the files at some future time, usually after validating the transcript or concluding the research. We argue that it is time to rethink this practice and that retention of original qualitative data-including audio and video recordings-should be the default stance in most cases.

Keywords: audio recording; human subjects research; institutional review boards (IRBs); qualitative research; video recording.

MeSH terms

  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Records*
  • Research Personnel*
  • Video Recording