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Access to ICES Data

This workflow outlines the process by which a researcher accesses data on a secure online environment and creates manuscript-ready research output.
ICES Data Process Requestor |  ICES Data process  DAS staff

Step 1 - The Requestor submits the DAS Request Form.

The Requestor must be a publicly funded, not-for-profit researcher, student, organization, policy maker or decision maker. 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.

Step 2 - ICES DAS assesses eligibility and project feasibility. If acceptable, the Requestor is invited to a consultation to review project objectives and timelines.

Upon submission, the DAS team will assess project feasibility and timelines. The Requestor will be contacted within two full business days of submission of the DAS Request Form. If feasible and eligible for services, a consultation will be scheduled.

Step 3 - During the consultation, ICES DAS will gather information to develop a preliminary project plan. Following the consultation, ICES DAS will provide the Requestor with a Confirmation of Feasibility that includes a cost estimate of the services requested.

The DAS team consults with the Requestor to develop a preliminary project plan. This consultation process (up to ten 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. ICES DAS will also request a named individual who will require access to the virtual data environment; this person should be experienced in using statistical software (SAS, Stata, or R) to analyze large data sets.
  • 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.
  • Data sets required: Identify the data sets and dates that will need to be used to answer the research question.
  • 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?
  • Disease and procedure codes: Specify any classification codes that will be used in the study.
  • Resources required: Specify whether the project will require support from analysts, epidemiologists, project manager, scientist, etc.
  • Timeline: Specify the proposed timeline for the project and whether there are deadlines to meet (funding end dates, year-end reports, etc.).

Step 4 - The Requestor seeks research ethics board approval for the project and satisfies any other conditions that must be met prior to project initiation, as specified in the Confirmation of Feasibility.

ICES DAS will provide the Requestor with a proposed project plan, high-level data set project plan and cost estimate based consultation. The letter of support accompanying the Confirmation of Feasibility will include conditions that must be met by the Requestor before project work can begin (examples include confirmation of public funding, copy of submission and written decision of a research ethics board). If funding is being sought, the letter of support can be submitted to granting agencies for applications.

Step 5 - The ICES Privacy Office reviews the submission to the research ethics board and corresponding approval.

Upon approval, the Requestor submits to ICES DAS a copy of their REB application, approval and completed Confirmation of Feasibility for review. ICES Privacy requires evidence that the completed Confirmation of Feasibility has been submitted as a part of the REB application – approval letter from an institutional REB typically lists the documents that have been submitted, this is sufficient.

Step 6 - ICES DAS provides the Requestor the DAS Agreement for signature.

When ICES Privacy is satisfied that the Requestor has met all the requirements of project initiation, ICES DAS will issue the DAS Agreement for review and signature. The DAS Agreement outlines the terms and conditions for provision and estimated cost of the services. Members of the Requestor’s project team will be required to sign a Confidentiality Agreement, to be considered Authorized Researchers.

If the project scope, time or funding availability has been modified since the first consultation (Step 2), the Requestor will be invited to another consultation. A revised project plan and, or, cost estimate may be provided as a result of the changes.

For projects requesting importation of external data to ICES, a data sharing agreement will be negotiated as part of the DAS Agreement specifying the data custodian, location of data, transfer schedule and data destruction upon linkage to ICES Data.

Following signature, ICES Finance will invoice the Requestor for services as per payment schedule negotiated within the DAS Agreement.

Step 7 - ICES DAS works with the Requestor to develop and finalize the data set creation plan.

Information from the consultation(s) with DAS and project proposal will be used to put together the data set creation plan outlining in detail, the Requestor's data requirements (specific data sets, timeframes, variables, covariates, etc.). The data set creation plan must be approved by the Requestor prior to the ICES Analyst beginning cohort creation.

Step 8 - ICES DAS completes cohort creation and uploads the customized research-ready data to the secure virtual server, the ICES Data & Analytic Virtual Environment (IDAVE).

ICES Analyst creates cohort(s) according to approved data set creation plan. Once the cohort(s) have been created, project data will be moved to the IDAVE for Authorized Researchers to access.

Step 9 - ICES DAS grants Authorized Researchers access to the IDAVE, where analyses will be performed by the Requestor’s project team.

Concurrent to Step 8, Authorized Researchers will be onboarded to the IDAVE server. ICES DAS will provide Authorized Researchers with instructions on how to install the secure virtual desktop infrastructure and login. Once data is available, Authorized Researchers will be notified that the data set(s) are uploaded to IDAVE. Users of IDAVE must abide by the terms and conditions outlined in the DAS Agreement, Privacy Tip sheet and the IDAVE User Training Manual. Failure to do so will result in immediate termination of access to the IDAVE.

Step 10 - The Authorized Researchers complete analyses, including creation of manuscript-ready output, within the IDAVE.

In addition to statistical software, the IDAVE is pre-loaded with MS Office applications for the creation of manuscript-ready output. Authorized Researchers are advised to suppress cells with counts less than six, including cells which allow for the back-calculation of cells with counts less than six. Authorized Researchers can request project output by populating and submitting this webform.

Step 11 - ICES DAS assesses requested files for re-identification risk, as per ICES policies. Files cleared of re-identification risk are e-mailed to the Requestor.

Once the requested file(s) pass re-identification risk assessment, ICES DAS will e-mail the file(s) to the Authorized Researcher.

Step 12 - Requestor completes project and informs ICES DAS of project closure.

Access to project accounts will be closed and final administrative documents will be issued by ICES DAS. Any remaining and outstanding costs will be invoiced at this time.

If you have more questions about ICES Data & Analytic Services, please email or contact ICES DAS at 416-480-4092 (in Toronto) or 1-844-848-9855 (toll-free internationally).