Refining the Data Ethics Canvas

Tue Jun 29, 2021
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We recently published the findings from a research project undertaken by our colleagues at Consequential. The research examined the impact of early data ethics tools, by gathering feedback from their early adopters, and discussed changes in the current tech and data ethics landscape which the creators of the next generation of data ethics tools should consider as we move towards the creation and adoption of the next generation of data ethics tools.

The ODI’s Data Ethics Canvas was one of the early data ethics tools, acting as a conduit for helping people to understand, identify and manage ethical issues at the outset of a project, and throughout. The canvas landing page remains the most visited page on our website by some margin. The successful adoption of this tool is evident in the positive feedback we have received from collaborators and other users since the first version of the canvas was released.


We made a commitment to support organisations to build ethical considerations into their approach to data collection, management and use, so we want to make sure that the tools and support that we offer around data ethics reflect the learnings that have emerged from the research led by Consequential. As the standard of ‘what good looks like’ for data ethics tools improves, we want to make sure we focus on making our Data Ethics Canvas as accessible as possible to users. Therefore, we have been making some changes and additions to our  data ethics web presence.

Adopting the learning version of the Data Ethics Canvas as standard

Our user engagement research showed the current iteration of the canvas can be overwhelming for first-time users – with the amount of text, and the order of prompts, the biggest potential issues.

In order to address this, we have adopted the ‘learning’ version of the data ethics canvas, currently used as part of our ‘learning experiences’, or education and training work. It is more user-friendly, with the prompts grouped into four categories, which are helpfully colour-coded:

  • Know your Data (Pink)
  • Explore your Impact (Yellow)
  • Plan your Engagement (Green)
  • Integrate into Processes (Blue)

We will now use this as the standard version across our website.

This version of the canvas will now formally be known as the Data Ethics Canvas and has replaced other versions on our website. All translations of the canvas have been updated with the new design and we have streamlined the process for contributors of additional translations.

What comes next?

We will continue to iterate on this version of the canvas to make sure that it meets the evolving needs of our users. If you would like to learn more about how the data ethics canvas can help your organisation, provide feedback on the latest changes, contribute a translation or find out about how we can help you with data ethics, then get in touch using the form below.

Get in touch about the Data Ethics Canvas

If you would like to get in touch about the Data Ethics Canvas, please share your details below.