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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 17 | November 1 , 2001

StatsCan data bank opens for social science research

Centre one of nine now on campuses across Canada

UBC researchers can directly access rich stores of data on Canadian life at a highly secure local branch of Statistics Canada now open on campus.

The British Columbia Interuniversity Research Data Centre (BCIRDC) gives faculty and PhD students from UBC, SFU and and the University of Victoria, unprecedented access to StatsCan surveys on Canadian health, labour and socio-economic activities.

The new centre, located on the second level of the Koerner Library, will go a long way to enhancing UBC's research capabilities, says Economics Assoc. Prof. Nicole Fortin, BCIRDC's academic director.

"This facility enables researchers in Western Canada to have the same access to confidential data as researchers closer to Ottawa now do," Fortin explains.

Previously, researchers had to travel to Ottawa or make a request for data through a regional Statistics Canada office, Fortin says.

The BCIRDC is one of nine in the Canadian Network of Research Data Centres now being established on campuses across the country.

The centres give researchers access to StatsCan's extensive socioeconomic and health data, including longitudinal surveys. The data spans up to 20 years in some cases.

Statistics Canada, in collaboration with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), initiated the nationwide network to help strengthen research in the social sciences.

Funding to establish the network came from a $5.4 million Canada Foundation for Innovation grant, with operating costs for the centres shared by SSHRC and participating universities. The StatsCan data is worth an estimated $8.1 million.

A strict set of security procedures for the centre prevents any disclosure of confidential information.

"The work done here, is done in a culture of confidentiality," says Lee Grenon, BCIRDC's StatsCan analyst. "Researchers are taught how to correctly handle data to avoid the risk of disclosure."

The centre features special concrete walls, barred windows, electronic keypad access, and a computer system with no external connections. It is staffed at all times by a Statistics Canada employee.

To gain access, prospective researchers must submit a detailed research proposal to SSHRC for peer review, pass a Statistics Canada security check, swear an oath to uphold the Statistics Canada Act, and attend a two-hour orientation session.

The centre is currently open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

More information

For information on the BCIRDC, call Fortin at 604-822-4121, or e-mail nifortin@interchange.ubc.ca or Lee Grenon at 604-822-0263 or bcirdc@interchange.ubc.ca.

Information on how to apply for access to the BCIRDC and the Research Data Centres program is available at www.sshrc.ca/rdc/english/overview.html.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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