Access to data for research purposes under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is approved by the Data Steward of the Public Body responsible for the data. Each application is assessed on its own merits.
To be considered for approval by the Public Body, a Data Access Request must:
- Be for the time-limited purpose of addressing a specific set of research questions
- Not involve use of data for administrative or any other non-research purpose, or for ongoing programs of research, unless specifically approved
- Be in the public interest, for example, improves the welfare of the population
- Not be proprietary research such as research done for commercial marketing purposes
- Have scientific merit
- Have approval from a recognized Research Ethics Board, as defined by the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans
Scientific merit is met if the research is funded by a recognized granting agency, such as Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. In the case of graduate students, a letter from the supervisor supporting the research must be provided and serves the purpose of proof of scientific merit. In the absence of peer review funding, the relevant Data Steward(s) can request a one-off peer review to determine eligibility, at its discretion.
It should be noted that the above requirements are necessary for review, but may not be sufficient, in and of themselves, for approval by the Data Steward of the Public Body. Additional requirements may arise that are project specific, and this framework may be updated with such requirements as they become relevant and routine.
A researcher is:
- Either a student, teacher, or other individual enrolled, appointed or employed by any of the following:
- A university, where the university status is defined under the BC University Act
- A college, university college or provincial institute as defined under the Colleges and Institute Act R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 52
- The Open Learning Agency as continued under the Open Learning Agency Act R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 34
- Royal Roads University continued under the Royal Roads University Act R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 409
- Another equivalent educational institution in another jurisdiction outside BC but within Canada
- Any other individual agreed to by the relevant Data Steward of the Public Body
Only researchers who will conduct their analyses in Canada are eligible to apply for access to data pursuant to FIPPA section 35.