Application guidelines

For more information on data access, please visit Statistics Canada's microdata access page. Aggregate data and general information on Statistics Canada's data holdings can be found on Statistics Canada’s website.

Guidelines for submitting an application

  • Determine application type (Origin of project)

    Determine application type (Origin of project)

    Are you applying to a government-funded project, an academic project, or other project?

    • If you are a government employee or consultant hired on contract to conduct research for a government organization, apply as a government funded project.
    • If you are a member of a Canadian post-secondary institution (faculty, staff, student), please apply as an academic project.
    • If you do not fall into one of the two categories above, please apply under "Other."
  • Determine project type

    Determine project type

    The possible project types are:

    • A research project
      • A single project designed to answer a main policy oriented research question.
    • A sub-project that is part of an existing research project
      • A sub-project is when the main research project question generates a sub question on the same topic. Researchers will need their main project number from the affiliated research project to submit an application.
    • A program that includes will encompass multiple research projects on the same topic
      • A program of research may include a series of projects linked by a common theme.
    • A research project that is part of an existing program
      • Once a program is approved by Statistics Canada, research projects that go under the program can be submitted. Researchers will need their main project number from the affiliated research project to submit an application.
    • A data validation project
      • A data validation project is to review the data and produce a data quality assessment for Statistics Canada. This application is currently under development. Researchers who do fall into this category will need to visit the contact information page to apply.
    • An academic course
      • A course designed to teach graduate level students methodology related to complex survey data analysis. This application is currently under development. Researchers who do fall into this category will need to visit the contact information page to apply.
  • Determine the location of access

    Determine the location of access

    Researchers will access the data for approved projects at Research Data Centres (RDCs) or Federal Research Data Centres (FRDCs) located across Canada. The list of RDCs, branch RDCs, and FRDCs can be found can be found on the User Community page.

  • Determine eligibility for access fees

    Determine eligibility for access fees

    Projects in university RDCs

    Fees can apply to certain research projects conducted in the RDCs. All Principal Investigators must complete a Fee-for-Service Questionnaire confirming the funding conditions under which they are undertaking the research project and the expected primary recipient and beneficiary of the research. This questionnaire will include a signature confirming that the information provided is true and accurate, to the best of the researcher's knowledge.

    Please consult the Canadian Research Data Centre Network Access and Fee-For-Service Policy to learn more about the policy governing access fees at these locations.

    Projects in the Federal RDCs

    Federal Government researchers in the National Capital Region will be permitted access to the Federal RDCs. Fees apply to this service and are determined upon proposal submission.

  • Identify project investigators

    Identify project investigators

    Principal investigator

    Principal investigators are the lead researchers, and may add other researchers (co-investigators).

    Add co-investigator (if applicable)

    The Principal Investigator (PI) will be required to enter the name of each co-investigator as well as a valid email address for them. Co-investigators will receive an automated email inviting them to complete their personal profile and upload a Curriculum Vitae (CV).

    Requirements for students

    Students applying for a project that forms a part of their thesis or dissertation, as well as post-doctoral fellows undertaking self-directed research, are required to list an academic supervisor as a co-investigator.

    Requirements for international researchers

    International researchers are researchers who do not reside in Canada and include all persons that do not hold one of the following: Canadian citizenship, Canadian permanent residency, Canadian work visa or Canadian student visa. Canadian citizens, or permanent residents who live abroad, are not considered international researchers. International researchers applying for data access are required to list a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada as a co-investigator.

  • Draft a Project Proposal

    Draft a Project Proposal

    Researcher are required to submit a project proposal (maximum of 10 pages) as part of their application. Applicants should include all elements of the project proposal template. Please note that researchers access only the data specified in the approved research proposal.

    Researchers may consult with their local RDC Analyst for further guidance.

  • Compile Supporting Documents for the Online Application

    Compile Supporting Documents for the Online Application

    Curriculum Vitae (CV)

    A CV should demonstrate research experience and technical competence that may include:

    • most significant research contributions
    • graduate student supervision
    • membership in professional bodies (e.g., professional associations or societies, grant evaluation committees, etc.)
    • funded research projects
    • research chairs or other awards recognizing research achievements
    • relevant presentations to government or non-governmental groups
    • invited lectures
    • refereed publications in the past 5 years that illustrate technical competence.

    Documents related to the peer review process

    The following applicants are pre-approved for the peer review process:

    • Persons who hold the rank of tenured Associate Professor or Full Professor at an accredited Canadian university (this would include retired tenured Professors but exclude faculty in teaching only positions)
    • Current or past Academic Director of a Statistics Canada Research Data Centre

    A peer review process or equivalent is required for all other applicants.

    Peer Review Equivalency for Students

    Masters and Doctoral Students are required to include a letter of support from the academic supervisor confirming that the student's supervisory committee has reviewed and approved the proposed project as part of the student's research. This letter is required only for a student who is listed as the Principal Investigator (PI) in the application. Applications for students studying outside Canada must also be supported and signed by the responsible RDC Academic Director.

    Peer review process for Non pre-approved applicants with funding

    Applicants who are not pre-approved but have obtained a peer review from an adjudicated funding process must upload their approval letter on the Microdata Access Portal.

    Peer review process for Non pre-approved applicants without funding

    Applicants who are not pre-approved and do not have funding from an adjudicated funding process must complete a Peer review form and upload the form on the Microdata Access Portal.

    Peer review equivalency for Federal and Provincial Employees

    A Statement of Affirmation from the Senior Statistical Focal Point must be submitted. The Statement of Affirmation should contain the following:

    "The statistical work outlined in this proposal has been reviewed by a Senior Manager in the department/ministry and will be used to support the mandate of the department. The person (or persons) named in the proposal is (or are) authorized to perform the work on behalf of the department."

    Documents for international researchers not residing in Canada

    The letters below apply to international researchers who reside outside of Canada and do not hold one of the following: Canadian Citizenship, Canadian permanent residency, Canadian work visa or Canadian student visa.

    Letter of Reference

    The Letter of Reference vouches for the character of the international researcher, and indicates a legitimate purpose for accessing Canadian data.

    The letter must be supplied by one of the following:

    • A co-investigator who is a researcher affiliated with a Canadian university
    • A faculty member from the university with which they are affiliated
    • The Canadian sponsoring organization or government department
    • The international organization with which the international researcher is employed
    Letter of Acknowledgment (students only)

    In addition to the letter of reference, international researchers who are students must provide a Letter of Acknowledgement from their affiliated institution confirming their affiliation and acknowledging the potential penalties should they contravene the requirements of the Statistics Act. The letter must be signed by the Dean of Graduate Studies at the Canadian University with which they are affiliated.

    Fee-for-Service Questionnaire

    All Principal Investigators must complete a Fee-for-Service Questionnaire confirming the funding conditions under which they are undertaking the research project and the expected primary recipient and beneficiary of the research. This questionnaire will include a signature confirming that the information provided is true and accurate, to the best of the researcher's knowledge.

    Please consult the Canadian Research Data Centre Network Access and Fee-For-Service Policy to learn more about the policy governing access fees.

Guidelines for data access following project approval

All approved applicants must become Deemed Employees of Statistics Canada to access the data. A Deemed Employee is someone who is not currently an employee of Statistics Canada, who is retained to provide a service to Statistics Canada, and who needs access to information provided by the Statistics Act to perform that service.

For more information on becoming a Deemed Employee of Statistics Canada, please consult the Frequently asked questions section.

Complete the following steps to obtain deemed employee status:

  • Obtain security clearance

    Obtain security clearance

    The process for obtaining a valid clearance (Reliability status) is completed with the assistance of the local analyst.

    Security Screening Requirements

    Applicants are required to:

    • Complete the Personnel Screening, Consent, and Authorization Form
      • Supporting identification must be provided. Additional documentation is required for applicants who have lived abroad for six months or longer within the last five years. For more information please see Supporting identification and documents needed for security screening.
    • Undergo a credit check
      • Applicants provide their consent for the credit check when completing the screening form (no further action is required).
    • Undergo fingerprinting as part of a criminal record check
      • Please note that a fee of approximately $50 may apply. This fee is not reimbursed by Statistics Canada.

    For information on this process please consult the Frequently asked questions section or contact your local analyst.

    Supporting identification and documents needed for security screening

    The identification and documents listed below are required for submission of the Personnel Screening, Consent and Authorization Form. Please bring the following documents to the Orientation session (not required for Federal government employees).

    Researcher status Identification and Documents
    Born in Canada
    • Canadian passport (alternative: Birth certificate, Citizenship card, or Citizenship certificate)
    • Photo ID (ex. Driver's license) if document provided from the list above does not contain a photo
    • Proof of current address*
    Not born in Canada, and now a Canadian citizen
    • Canadian passport or Citizenship card (alternative: Canadian Citizenship certificate)
    • Photo Identification (ex. Driver's license) if document provided from the list above does not contain a photo
    • Proof of current address*
    Permanent Resident
    • Passport
    • Permanent resident card
    • Proof of current address*
    International researchers (researchers possessing a work/study permit)
    • Passport
    • Work/study permit
    • Proof of current address/local residence
    *For example, Driver's license, copy of utility bill, or rental agreement.

    In addition to the above requirements, applicants who lived outside of Canada continuously for 6 months or longer within the last 5 years require a police certificate from each foreign country or where they have lived. A police certificate provides a summary of an individual's criminal record or a declaration of the absence of any criminal record from that country.

    Requesting translation

    All police certificates or alternate documents must be submitted in either English or French. If the documents are in another language, they must be translated.

    The translated document must accompany the original document when submitted.

    Costs to the applicant

    Applicants will need to cover any costs associated with the out-of-country verification process. These costs may include fees to obtain a police certificate or alternative documents, to have documents translated.

  • Attend an orientation session and take the Oath/Affirmation of Office and Secrecy

    Attend an orientation session and take the Oath/Affirmation of Office and Secrecy

    Orientation session

    Statistics Canada staff will invite the research team to attend an Orientation session at the local RDC. The following will take place during the Orientation:

    • Security screening paperwork may be reviewed and completed
    • The Oath (or Affirmation) of Office and Secrecy will be administered by the Statistics Canada analyst
    • The data access agreement will be signed.

    Oath (or Affirmation) of Office and Secrecy

    The Statistics Act Oath or Solemn Affirmation of Office and Secrecy is a requirement of the Statistics Act. The Oath sworn (or affirmed) indicates that the Deemed Employee promises to never disclose any identifiable information about individual respondents.

  • Declare any conflict of interest related to the use of the data

    Declare any conflict of interest related to the use of the data

    A conflict of interest is a situation whereby a person has private interests or outside activities and uses their data access for personal gain, or could be perceived by a reasonable observer as doing so.

    Should you feel that there may be a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest between your personal interests or outside activities and your data access, you are required to formally disclose these interests or outside activities. For more information visit the Contact information page.

  • Sign an Agreement for data access with Statistics Canada

    Sign an Agreement for data access with Statistics Canada

    The Agreement specifies the terms of conditions of data access, including:

    • Agreement of Statistics Canada to provide access to confidential microdata for the purpose and scope of the research outlined in the approved research proposal
    • Project start and end date
    • Agreement of the researchers to abide by Statistics Canada's security and confidentiality requirements
    • Agreement of the Principal Investigator to provide a final product to Statistics Canada at the end of the contract.

    Canadian Research Data Centre Network Researcher Survey

    Once a year, researchers are contacted by Academic Directors of the Canadian Research Data Centre Network to submit a list of all products generated from the project work. The number of products generated by researchers working in RDCs demonstrates the success of the program and helps the CRDCN secure funding to provide this service free of charge to affiliated members.

    Approval of the Agreement

    The Agreement becomes valid when signed by the Director of Statistics Canada's Microdata Access Division. The Director signs the contract when:

    • The project has been approved
    • The members of the research team have obtained a valid security clearance
    • All members of the research team have signed the agreement (other signatures may be required for Government-funded projects).

    Once the contract is signed, Statistics Canada will notify the research team that access to the data may commence.

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