Data Access Process

The diagram below outlines the process involved in applying for access to data. Detailed information on each step is included below the diagram.
ICES Data Process Requestor |  ICES Data process  DAS staff

ICES Data Process Step 1 - Requestor submits the Request Form

The Requestor must be a publicly funded, not-for-profit researcher, student, policy maker, or knowledge user. The Requestor must specify the purpose of the project – academic publication, inform policymakers, report, etc. – and the intended audience. A pdf request form should be submitted to

ICES Data process Step 2 - DAS staff assess project feasibility and timelines

Upon submission, the DAS team will assess project feasibility and timelines. The DAS Project Manager will contact the Requestor within two full business days of receiving the submission of the Request Form. If accepted as a DAS project, a follow-up consultation for project scoping will be scheduled.

ICES Data process Step 3 - DAS staff consults with Requestor

DAS Scientist and Lead Analyst consult with Requestor to develop a data development plan for the project. This consultation process (up to 10 hours) will gather information on the following:

  • Project personnel: Specify the Principal Investigator and any analysts or research coordinators who are part of the project team. DAS will also request a named individual who will require access to the virtual data environment
  • Type of study: Specify whether the project is a cohort or case-control study. If cohort, has the cohort already been created or is cohort development required? If it is a longitudinal study, identify which changes over time are of interest (examples: residential changes, coding changes).
  • Index event, variables and covariates: Identify the index event, age, sex, and any other required demographic or geographic data. Specify any comorbidities and additional covariates.
  • Datasets to be used: Identify the datasets and dates that will need to be used to answer research question. If you are not familiar with ICES datasets, you may find the ICES Data Dictionary helpful. DAS Scientist and Lead Analyst will identify the datasets for you if unknown.
  • Types of analytical methods: Identify the analysis plan. Specify if existing data fields can be used or whether fields need to be derived. If there is a named analyst on the project team, are they familiar with the analytic methods that are required? Dependent variables and final outcomes must be specified clearly here. If partial or full analytical support is required, specify this here.
  • Disease/Procedure classification codes: Specify any classification codes that will be used in the study, if familiar
  • Resources necessary to complete the project: Specify whether the project will require additional support from analysts, epidemiologists, project manager, etc.
  • Timeline: Specify the proposed timeline for the project and whether there are deadlines to meet (funding end dates, year-end reports, etc.)

ICES Data process Step 4 - DAS staff provides Requestor with a cost estimate and letter of support

DAS will provide the Requestor with a cost estimate based on the data development plan. A letter of support will be provided to the Requestor to submit for the purposes of peer review. The letter of support will also include any conditions that must be met by the Requestor before project work can begin (examples include copy of submission and written decision of a research ethics board).

ICES Data Process Step 5 - Requestor meets all conditions outlined in the letter of support and contacts DAS staff for project initiation

Conditions outlined in the letter of support are reviewed for adherence and if the project scope has changed since initial consultation, the cost estimate may require modification.

 Step 6 - DAS staff administers Services Agreement

Once conditions are met, DAS and Requestor will sign a Services Agreement outlining the terms and conditions for provision of the services, and the cost estimate associated with project execution. Users of DAS must abide by the terms and conditions outlined in the Services Agreement; failure to do so will result in immediate termination of the project.

ICES Data process Step 7 - DAS staff aid Requestor in finalizing the Dataset Creation Plan

Information from the initial consultation will be used to put together the Dataset Creation Plan outlining, in detail, the Requestor's data requirements. 

ICES Data process Step 8 - DAS analysts will upload customized research-ready data to designated folder in the virtual environment for the Requestor

The finalized Dataset Creation Plan will be used by a DAS Analyst to create the customized de-identified dataset(s) which will then be uploaded to the virtual environment.

ICES Data process Step 9 - DAS staff will grant approved Requestor(s) access to the virtual environment and an orientation to the privacy and technology will be available

The Requestor will be granted access to the virtual environment and notified that the de-identified dataset(s) are ready for use. Users of DAS must abide by the terms and conditions outlined in the Services Agreement, Privacy Tip sheet and the User Technology Training Manual. Failure to do so will result in immediate termination of access to the virtual data environment. Analytic training materials for the virtual environment will also be made available. User accounts will be set up by DAS for designated users of the virtual environment.

ICES Data Process Step 10 - Requestor completes analyses, including the creation of MS Office reports, within the virtual environment

Once work is completed, the Requestor will notify the DAS Lead Analyst to request release of the final output files. The files will be reviewed to ensure the output is consistent with ICES privacy & security policies..

ICES Data process Step 11 - DAS Lead Analyst will release requested files to Requestor

Once project files are approved for release, the Lead Analyst will provide the Requestor with the requested files. DAS staff scientist and analysts are available to provide consultation services as required throughout the project life cycle.

ICES Data Process Step 12 - Requestor will approve project closure

Access to project accounts will be closed and final administrative documents will be issued by DAS staff.

If you have more questions about ICES Data & Analytic Services, please Email  contact us- email icon or contact ICES DAS staff at 416-480-4092, toll-free: 1-844-848-9855.