Data access for students

Students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at a Canadian college or university,  or medical residents under training affiliated with a Canadian college or university, are eligible to access Population Data BC's (PopData) and Health Data Platform BC (HDPBC) data holdings in fulfillment of their academic or training program’s research requirements.

The process of completing a Data Access Request (DAR), obtaining the associated approvals, and having data prepared and released can be a lengthy process, which can take anywhere from three months to over a year, depending on the complexity of the project. Students should be aware of this fact when planning degree timelines.

PLEASE NOTE: Even students planning on using data associated with an existing project, will need to apply to use the data specifically for the completion of their own work by submitting a Student DAR. Note that this is a requirement, even if the student's work fits within the research objectives of the already approved project. This is not only required to access the record-level data, but also required for the use of results and/or aggregate data developed under the existing project.

Student request to access data for academic purposes

Currently, there are two ways that students may access data through PopData/HDPBC:

1. Submit a standard Data Access Request (DAR) to access a new set of research data, specifically for the student project

In this scenario, the student submits his/her own standalone Data Access Request (DAR) and goes through the standard DAR process (using our regular DAR form, not the student DAR form). The student will be the Applicant and the Supervisor will be the Principal Investigator.

When full approval is in place, data will be provided as per the standard process. Students who have received research funding are expected to reimburse reasonable cost recovery charges to PopData. If a student doesn't have access to funding, they may apply to have the costs waived (see below). The student must be the author or a co-author on any research materials produced under the DAR. Other research team members, including the supervisor, are not allowed to use the data for their own research. When the student has completed his/her academic or residency program, the project must be closed – Data Stewards will not provide an option for transferring the DAR to the student’s supervisor.

For more information on the peer review process for standalone Student DARs, please visit the DAR process Stage 2 page of this website.

2. Submit a Student Data Access Request (‘Student DAR’) to access the data of an existing project

In this scenario, the student requests to use the Research Extract released under an existing project (typically his/her supervisor’s DAR) for his or her project, thesis, or dissertation. The student will need to submit a ‘Student DAR’ to the Data Stewards via PopData. 

Upon approval, the Student becomes a project team member of the existing project and the Student DAR will be considered as an addendum to the existing Research Agreement. The student’s data access is under the existing Research Agreement for the project.

> download Student DAR

Roles and Responsibilities

Students are responsible for completing the Student DAR in consultation with their supervisors, providing all required supporting documents, and ensuring the use of the data is in compliance with the Research Agreements. PopData/HDPBC does not provide additional support to students in developing their research projects, completing the DAR, and cleaning/analyzing the data. Students are expected to consult their supervisors throughout the DAR process. 

Supervisors are expected to guide the student through the complete DAR process, including the following:

  • defining the research objectives and determining the appropriate research methodology
  • reviewing the student’s DAR prior to submission
  • and providing support in data cleaning, data analysis, presentations and publications

The Principal Investigator is responsible for ensuring the project team members are in compliance with the Research Agreements, the Researcher Services Agreement, and other relevant policies.

The Data Steward(s) requires that students using data from PopData submit their thesis or dissertation to them for review at the time of final submission to their committee. For further information on review requirements for research materials (including thesis and dissertation materials), please visit:


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 and 3 ODC projects)


CaraSpace projects


Last revised March 15th, 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