I have reached out to a researcher about using their dataset from a paper published 20+ years ago, but they have not responded to my email. There are a variety of reasons why they might have not responded, ranging from being retired, data is destroyed, not trusting unsolicited emails, coveting the data's future research potential, and probably a myriad of other possibilities.
Because their study
- used a constrained scale (Likert [1,5]),
- used a relatively small sample size,
- used a small number of questions,
- reported multiple statistics giving location, scale, and correlations,
- and model fit statistics,
it is possible for me to recreate a dataset that is identical to the original.
The purpose of creating this dataset would be to provide a hypothetical analysis with updated modeling and statistical methods to compare if the conclusions would be similar with new methods. The original dataset would have been preferred, but a reconstruction would provide an equivalent result for the newer methods.
The measurements are survey responses, so on the face of it one might be concerned about privacy. However, the sampled population is large and the survey questions are not specific, so actually identifying individuals would not be possible from this reconstruction.
Assuming that I am transparent with what I am doing in my reporting of the data and analysis, is it ethical to reconstruct a dataset without explicitly obtaining permission?