Data access for students

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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) 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: Two scenarios

Currently, there are two ways that students may access data through PopData.

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 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.

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.

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 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 see: https://www.popdata.bc.ca/dataaccess/process/analysis/publishing_research_materials.

Student Cost Waiver Policy

Waivers may be granted to students up to a maximum of $7,500 for the service charges and $5,000 for SRE access (standard SRE package) for a total of $12,500 per student, per degree. 

Only student projects that are used to fulfill program of study requirements can be deemed eligible for the student waiver. 

For more complicated projects involving external data sources, any PopData fees for external coordination, linkage, and/or data preparation are not eligible to be waived. For instance, for a student project involving Cardiac Services BC (CSBC) data, the waiver would not cover the PopData fees associated with CSBC coordination, linkage to CSBC data, or crosswalk file preparation. Note that PharmaNet coordination costs are eligible to be waived because they are considered an internal Data Steward however, the data preparation costs charged by PharmaNet directly are not eligible to be waived.

Amendments to student projects are not covered by the student waiver. Students are urged to plan their DAR appropriately to include all necessary requests up front.

Students will be responsible for any charges in excess of the waiver ceiling, with no exceptions. Confirmation of funding will be requested at the time of DAR submission if the request is anticipated to exceed the ceiling amount. 

Students who received a cost waiver may be asked to assist with PopData initiatives as necessary from time to time. This may include review of documents, testing of new systems, and providing feedback to process.


Page last revised: November 15, 2016