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
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
For information on the BCIRDC, call Fortin at 604-822-4121, or
or Lee Grenon at 604-822-0263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.