Thus, when I give my team the findings from our research at a branch, it's easy to pinpoint exactly who provided what feedback, even if I don't say their name.
This reminds me of those manager performance appraisal forms that say "be honest but not so honest that you can be identified by your remarks."
It is a catch-22. Context like role and demographic info is necessary to qualify feedback as representative and useful and help make the research valid, but to your point it can also make it easier to identify the participants.
So what's really at stake? Is it mostly that you feel you're less likely to get honest feedback from participants who feel they can easily be identified?
Here are a few suggestions to mitigate that:
- Don't ask participants for their names or roles. You probably already have this info, so instead just number the materials and feedback forms for each participant and keep that index handy.
- Don't report on the role & demographics of each individual participant. Instead, just indicate that your participants all met the relevant role and demographic criteria for the study topic.
- Don't report content that can identify individuals. DarrylGodden alludes to this. Instead, try to transform qualitative data into quantitative data i.e. "5 of 7 participants had negative things to say about X, Y or Z..." or even paraphrase.
- Don't leave participants guessing as to how their remarks will be represented. Instead, assure them by showing how the content of your report will be structured with the emphasis on what was said vs. who said it.
I think participants' identity is mostly useful for answering tho question:
"Are these the right people for the research question?"
If stakeholders trust your research planning, the answer should be yes or no vs a list of people.