These steps are designed for academic projects conducted by a researcher who is sponsored by a provincial government agency. All researchers must submit their research proposal through a review process before access to a Research Data Centre (RDC) can be granted. The steps for submitting a project proposal are outlined below.
- Step 1: Draft a project proposal and obtain a letter of support
- Step 2: Submit the proposal for peer and institutional reviews
- Step 3: Complete the security screening process
- Step 4: Timeline and fee structure
- Step 5: Sign a Section 10 agreement with Statistics Canada
- Step 6: Submit a product/output
Step 1: Draft a project proposal
Scope of analysis in a typical RDC proposal:
- Focus on modelling data (i.e., regression, logistic regression, multilevel modelling, etc.)
- Minimal descriptive statistics (i.e., 35-50 frequencies and crosstabs with limited dimensions)
- Access to single or multiple data sets. (i.e., typically focused on one main dataset with a few others for supporting analysis)
- Duration is short to medium timeframe (i.e., 1 to 3 years)
- Produce 1–2 products to be published in the public domain (i.e., presentation, journal article, dissertation, book chapter).
To ensure a swift review of the proposal, you are encouraged to include all elements of the following Project Proposal Framework.
- To another government department, to fulfill its mandate to develop or evaluate policy in a particular area, when it requires statistical outputs that necessitate access to confidential microdata; and,
- When a service is being rendered to Statistics Canada; i.e., Statistics Canada can engage the services of an employee of another department to produce requested statistical outputs when it is unable to provide the service itself.
Project proposal framework:
The project proposal is a maximum of ten pages and includes the following elements:
- Title of the Project
- Identification and security verification of primary investigator
- Access to enter an RDC will only be granted to individuals with valid federal security clearance. Federal employees requesting access to the RDC must first provide their date of birth and PRI number on their proposal so that Statistics Canada can verify their level of clearance. Consultants hired by a federal department to perform research are responsible for gaining security clearance through that department prior to submitting a research proposal.
- Rationale and objectives of the study
- Clearly identify the specific questions or objectives of the project.
- State how the research will contribute to the knowledge in the field of study by summarizing the current literature and identifying the gap(s) to be addressed.
- Proposed data analysis and software requirements
- What is the proposed statistical methodology? How is it suitable for this project?
- Will the volume of descriptive statistics be greater than that of a typical RDC proposal (i.e., 35-50 frequencies and crosstabs with limited dimensions)? If yes, please explain.
- What software will be utilized?
- Please note, the approval of the feasibility of the data is not also an approval for the software requested in the research proposal. Please check with your local RDC Analyst to determine the availability of particular software packages and to discuss possible alternatives. Please see the following FAQ for more information on this process:
- Data requirements
- An explanation of why access to the confidential data (as opposed to public use microdata files) is necessary.
- Which survey file/files or cycles are to be used?
- Will the number of data sets be greater than that of a typical RDC proposal (i.e., 1–3 datasets)? If yes, please explain.
- Will datasets be merged, pooled, or linked to other Statistics Canada datasets or other data sets? If you plan to merge, pool, or link data in your analysis please provide adequate detail on how the data from each source will be combined in this analysis, and its intended purpose. In particular, your description should outline whether you plan to pool data from two or more sources to increase your sample size; or to merge aggregate contextual data to the micro-records; or whether your plan is to link micro-record to micro-record together from two or more sources. Most of Statistics Canada's micro-data master files contain unique record IDs associated with respondents such as persons, families or households. To protect the confidentiality of survey respondents, RDC researchers are not permitted to attempt any record linkage either between data files (e.g. Census and CCHS) or among cycles of a survey (such as CCHS 2009 and CCHS 2010). Should you plan a micro-record to micro-record linkage please be advised that a second approval process is required by senior management at Statistics Canada and that the linkage must be conducted at Statistics Canada. Additionally, there may be a fee for these services.
- Provide a statement that the confidential data file(s) identified is (are) in fact suitable for the proposed research.
- What are the variables to be used?
- What is the specific population of interest in the required data set(s)?
- What is the expected sample size of the population of interest? Is this sufficient to complete the analysis as well as respect the confidentiality of the respondents? Please explain
- Does geography play a role in the data analysis? If it is based on small levels of geography please describe how it will be defined, what variables will be used and the potential implications this may have on the sample size.
- Refer to these survey specific guidelines for RDC proposals requesting the following data:
- Expected project start and end dates and location where work is to be conducted
- Expected project start and end dates or anticipated duration and resources to complete the work (for example, two persons working 3 days per week for a month).
- Proposed location. Generally, access will be provided in a Statistics Canada Research Data Centre, or occasionally, in the Statistics Canada offices in Ottawa.
- Expected products
- Working paper
- Peer-reviewed journal article
- Book or book chapter
- Graduate level thesis or dissertation
- Commissioned report (e.g. government report)
- Sources, if any, used in the proposal or for specific analytical methods employed
Step 2: Submit the proposal for peer and institutional reviews
A project proposal is submitted for peer review to the focal point contact for the Provincial Government that is funding the research.
Upon approval of the proposal the Senior Statistical Focal Point contact forwards it, along with a statement of affirmation, to the Director of the Statistics Canada Microdata Access Division for institution review process.
Statement of affirmation: "The statistical work outlined in this proposal 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."
Step 3: Complete the security screening process
In order to access confidential microdata, all researchers must obtain security clearance, and become “deemed employees” of Statistics Canada. A provincial government employee or an academic researcher hired as a consultant by a provincial government agency must contact the RDC Analyst who is responsible for the RDC for help in completing the security screening form. This form must be completed within the presence of a Statistics Canada analyst at the RDC where the research will be conducted. Effective December 1, 2016, the RCMP requires all federal public servants in Canada (including RDC researchers and staff) to undergo fingerprinting as part of their security clearance. Additionally, the Treasury Board of Canada requires a credit check. Please contact your local RDC to learn more about the security clearance procedure. A list of FAQs is also available for additional information.
In general, when completing the security screening forms each researcher must also provide:
- a copy of photo ID
- full 5 year address history
- non-Canadians must also provide a work Visa, and proof of Canadian address
Please note there are additional security requirements for researchers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. The requirements are:
- Include a Canadian citizen or permanent Canadian resident as a co-investigator
- Provide a letter of reference from a person that vouches for the character of the international researcher, that he/she is a reputable researcher with a legitimate purpose for accessing Canadian data.
- For international students only, 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.
For further information on these requirements, please contact the local RDC Analyst when the project is approved.
Step 4: Timeline and fee structure
It typically takes between 6 to 8 weeks for the entire application submission, proposal review, and security clearance steps to be completed when a project proposal is submitted for RDC access. If proposals are deemed to be incomplete by institutional or peer reviewers (due to insufficient detail on any of the elements in the proposal), the eight-week review timeline may be extended to accommodate revision and resubmission of the proposal.
For access to one of the Research Data Centres across Canada, Statistics Canada’s Microdata Access Division will assist the researcher in coordinating this cost recovery service.
Fees are to be negotiated between the Chief of the RDC Program and the Principal Investigator according to the standards agreed upon with the CRDCN. This agreement is negotiated at the time of the proposal submission. For additional information, refer to the RDC Project Fees section on the Application Process and Guidelines page.
Step 5: Sign a Section 10 agreement with Statistics Canada
Once the Manager of the Statistics Canada Microdata Access Division has approved and signed the institutional review, head office operations unit drafts a Section 10 agreement between Statistics Canada's chief statistician and the provincial government agency's senior statistical focal point contact representing the researchers who will be working on the project. The Section 10 agreement will contain the start and end dates for the research project, and the names of all the researchers who have direct access to the confidential microdata. Once the Section 10 agreement is signed and security clearance is granted, access to the RDC is granted and research can begin.
Please contact STATCAN.MADHOOU-DAMSSOBC.STATCAN@canada.ca for further information regarding this process.
Step 6: Submit a product/output
A product must be submitted for each contract signed in order to fulfill the contractual obligations agreed upon between the researchers and Statistics Canada. There are six types of outputs that you can submit as a product for your research project.
- RDC working paper: A paper for the RDC working paper series authored by the Principal Investigator for Statistics Canada.
- Peer–reviewed journal article: A journal article authored by the Principal Investigator for a peer–reviewed journal.
- Book or Book chapter: A book or book chapter authored by the Principal Investigator.
- Thesis or Dissertation: A graduate level thesis or dissertation.
- Commissioned Report: A commissioned report authored by the Principal Investigator.
- Vetted output can be considered part of the service agreement.
It may be possible to submit other types of products. Please discuss other output options with the RDC Anaylst before the contract is written. Once a year, researchers are contacted by Academic Directors of the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) to submit a list of all products generated from the project work. The number of products generated by researchers working RDCs demonstrates the success of the program and helps the CRDCN secure funding to provide this service free of charge to affiliated members.