ICPSR operates a physical data enclave and a virtual data enclave. The virtual data enclave allows secure access to restricted data through a virtual private network connection to a portal on a desktop computer. Some data, however, can only be analyzed in person, at our physical data enclave in Ann Arbor.
Details on accessing restricted-use data are available on the home page of each particular study that has been classified restricted by ICPSR.
Virtual data enclave
The virtual data enclave (VDE) provides access to restricted-use data and is a virtual machine launched from the researcher's own desktop but operating on a remote server, similar to remotely logging into another physical computer. The virtual machine is isolated from the user's physical desktop computer, restricting the user from downloading files or parts of files to their physical computer. The virtual machine is also restricted in its external access, preventing users from emailing, copying, or otherwise moving files outside of the secure environment, either accidentally or intentionally. Available options of the VDE include file sharing among project team members and vetting of results.
A data provider interested in depositing data for use only in the virtual data enclave should contact Amy Pienta, ICPSR Director of Acquisitions, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Physical data enclave
Approximately 20 studies are only accessible for analysis on-site at the enclave in the basement of the Perry Building in Ann Arbor. The data in the enclave contain highly sensitive personal information collected from, for example, prison inmates, victims of violence, or serious criminal offenders. An Application for Use of the ICPSR Data Enclave and Confidentiality Agreement signed by the investigator and an official of the investigator's institution are necessary for access to the enclave, as well as approval from the relevant Institutional Review Board
When using the enclave, several guidelines are in effect:
- Investigators cannot bring laptops or other electronic equipment into the enclave.
- The enclave computer is equipped with a Windows-based computer with the Microsoft Office Suite, and the SPSS, SAS and Stata statistical packages. Arrangements must be made in advance for other software.
- The computer cannot send e-mail or access the Internet, and the removable media ports are disabled.
- An ICPSR staff member is present at all times when a researcher is using the enclave. The monitor inspects and approves all material brought into the enclave, and oversees use of the enclave printer.
- All output, notes and other material must be electronic and submitted for disclosure review before the investigator leaves the enclave.
- An ICPSR unit manager will conduct a disclosure review of all files that the investigator wants to use after their use of the enclave.
- Approved analysis output will be sent to the researcher on media supplied by ICPSR.