Accessing Restricted-Use Data
ICPSR conducts a disclosure risk review of every dataset to determine whether any data items could be used to identify individual respondents. ICPSR ensures respondent confidentiality by either removing, masking, or collapsing variables within public-use versions of the datasets. The vast majority of ICPSR data holdings are public-use files with no restrictions on their access.
Sometimes the protective measures taken to reduce disclosure risk would significantly degrade the research potential of the data. In these cases, ICPSR provides access to restricted use versions that retain confidential data by imposing stringent requirements for accessing them. There are two types of restricted data: data that are available to vetted researchers on removable media and data that are accessible only within a secure data enclave.
Details on applying for access to restricted-use data are available on the home page of each particular study that has been classified restricted by ICPSR. For example, researchers will see the following message and link on the study home page under Access Notes:
One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. Authentication is required to apply for access.
Typically, material including an application for restricted data, a data protection plan, a restricted data use agreement, and a supplemental agreement with research staff are required. Examples of these forms are available in pdf format.
When attempting to access restricted data, users will be prompted to fill out an online form on the ICPSR Web site. Users must be affiliated with a member institution and sign on with a MyData account or with their Facebook or Google passwords.
The application requires:
- Names, departments, and titles of investigators
- Description of the proposed research
- Information on data formats needed and data storage technology
- Approval from the Institutional Review Board of the data user's organization
- A signed data use agreement
A listing of studies containing restricted data is available on our Web site, as is a list of studies with some restricted data and some public-use files.