The PopData/HDPBC Data Access Request (DAR) process

The Data Access Unit (DAU) at Population Data BC (PopData) provides a number of services for Researchers in support of their Data Access Requests (DARs), these include:

  • Providing information and coordination support to facilitate Researchers preparing DARs, such as guidance on data sets, years, fields, and development of the cohort definition.
  • Confirming research team composition and ensuring that all have completed confidentiality undertakings.
  • Undertaking preliminary review of DARs to ensure that applications include all required documentation and information (e.g., ethics review is current and relevant to the project requesting data, investigators are consistently identified, etc.).
  • Sending DARs to the relevant Data Steward(s) for full review and approval.
  • Facilitating communications and additional requirements as necessary and appropriate and to enable timely responses.

Overview of the Data Access Request (DAR) process

What happens during each stage?

Stage 1: Planning the project

  • Feasibility and cost estimates prepared
  • Reviewing BC Ministry of Health (MoH) consent form requirements
  • Drafting consent forms that include all BC MoH requirements
  • Planning of DAR using researcher tools and resources

> more detail on this stage

Stage 2: Completing and submitting a DAR
  • Completion of DAR via DARonline 
  • Ethics and peer review
  • Completion of consent form requirements to attach to DAR (if applicable)
  • Co-ordination of the DAR and pre-submission review by DAU
  • Submission of DAR to Data Steward(s) by DAU on behalf of the Researcher

> more detail on this stage

Stage 3: Data Steward Review
  • DAU works with Researcher to answer questions from the Data Steward(s)
  • The Data Steward(s) review, approve or reject the DAR 
  • The DAU notifies the Researcher

> more details on this stage

Stage 4: Contracts, accounts and privacy training
  • Research Agreement and Confidentiality Pledge are signed
  • Services Agreement and cost quote prepared
  • Researcher Account set up for SRE access
  • Privacy Training 101 for Researchers course is completed for PI and all members of the research team requiring access to data on the SRE

> more details on this stage

Stage 5: Data preparation and release
  • Study population defined and data linked
  • Preparation of data extract 
  • Data is placed in the Secure Research Environment (SRE) for analysis

> more details on this stage

Stage 6: Researcher analysis and Pre-publication Review
  • Researchers analyse data in the Secure Research Environment (SRE)
  • Amendments to DAR may be made
  • Data Retention Extensions may be applied for
  • Student DARs’ may be submitted for students using data released for their supervisor’s project in their theses or dissertation 
  • Researchers must keep the ethics approval up-to-date
  • Research Materials must be submitted to Data Steward(s) prior to public dissemination

> more details on this phase

Stage 7: Project closure
  • Researcher notifies DAU that project is complete
  • Researcher completes project closure form, access to SRE is withdrawn and data is archived for 7 years

> view details on this stage


DARs/Projects snapshot

Total number of DARs/Projects currently with PopData:


The breakdown:

DARs in preparation/review


Projects with amendments in preparation/review


DARs in post-approval


Projects with data being prepared


Projects being maintained
(inc. 9 DASH & 18 DI Program projects)


CaraSpace projects


Last revised February 8th, 2024

Tools and resources

We provide a range of tools and resources for researchers for use at different stages of the data access process.

more information

Need pan-Canadian data?

The Data Access Support Hub (DASH) is a one-stop data access service portal for researchers requiring multi-jurisdictional data in Canada.

> more information