Guide to reducing application processing delays

There are a number of things that a Researcher can do to reduce application processing delays.

Common causes of delay

Incomplete DAR

Incomplete DAR applications cannot be reviewed by Data Stewards. Use DAR help  when filling out the DAR.

What you can do

  • Submit to Data Access Unit (DAU) for review before Data Stewards
  • Work with DAU on completing the DAR Provide all supporting documents and attachments
  • Request only data needed for the analysis; be ready to provide justifications


Inconsistencies in DAR package

Inconsistent information in the DAR and appendices raises concern by Data Stewards and cannot be submitted for review.

What you can do

  • Scan ALL supporting documents for consistent titles, date ranges, study population descriptions, etc and update them.


Modifications submitted prior to approval

Modification to the original request post-submission requires full re-consideration of the project by all Data Stewards.

What you can do

  • Work with the DAU to ensure that you have requested the data that best answers your research question(s) at the outset
  • Wait until all outstanding ideas and questions have been answered/included before submitting your DAR


Researcher response time

The request for information signals that the project is actively being reviewed.  If there is a delay in response, the focus may move to another project.

Projects automatically become inactive with extended non-response: see: Researcher response times

What you can do

  • Answer emails as soon as you are able, or communicate expected delays
  • Request assistance or clarification from the DAU if a request for information is unclear Document communications you receive regarding your project


Project information not updated with the DAU

As the coordinator of applications, the DAU needs to be able to assure all Data Stewards that they are all reviewing the most up-to-date materials.

Late discovered information may require re-review by Data Stewards.

What you can do

Notify the DAU immediately of:

  • Status of approvals
  • Any changes to external applications
  • Status of REB approvals
  • Funding changes
  • Any other change you think may affect your project


Sensitive / identifiable data requested

The more sensitive the request for information, the greater level of scrutiny the request undergoes.

What you can do

  • Ensure you ask for the minimum data required to answer your research question(s).
  • Ensure there is comprehensive justification for requests. This may include a field by field justification.


Time period of requests

Requests for current data can be made up to the end of the current fiscal or calendar year. However PopData receives data updates with a lag time of one year or more.

What you can do

  • Ask your Data Access Unit contact when the current-year data is expected before including it in an application.


External Data requests/External Study Population

Extracts cannot be actioned until receipt of the external study population/cohort.

What you can do

  • Ensure that the DAU has the up to date contact information for external Data Stewards involved in your project.
  • Work with the DAU and external Data Stewards to clearly outline the linkage strategy for the project.



DARs/Projects snapshot

Total number of DARs/Projects currently with PopData:


Last revised May 10th, 2024

Tools and resources

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

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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.

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