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Public Sector Researchers

Who are Public Sector Researchers?

  • Researchers and students affiliated with a university, college, hospital or other institution.
  • Publicly funded, not-for-profit healthcare agencies and research organizations.
  • Policy makers.
  • Other publicly funded knowledge users who require data or analytic services to support the development of evidence-informed policies and practices.

Access to ICES Data

Public sector researchers who want to access ICES data to answer a research question may submit a request to ICES Data & Analytic Services (DAS). DAS staff will contact the requestor to discuss the project’s feasibility, timeline and cost. Projects requesting access to data require the approval of a research ethics board (REB).

DAS staff work with requestors to design a research-ready data extract from the ICES data repository using an algorithm that de-identifies data in a way that provides researchers with individual-level data while meeting all privacy standards. Requestors are provided with access to the linked, de-identified data extract on a secure, online research environment, where they can perform analyses and create reports. To ensure privacy policy compliance, linked data cannot be copied or removed from the environment.

To request access to ICES data, submit a completed ICES DAS Public Sector Request Form.

Analytic Services & Reports for Research

In cases where the requestor is not seeking access to individual-level data, DAS can provide analytic services, including results reports based on analysis of ICES data. DAS staff and scientists will perform the analyses that generate the results report, in accordance with specifications provided by the requestor. Projects requesting analytic services for the purposes of research require the approval of a REB.

To request analytic services and reports, submit a completed ICES DAS Public Sector Request Form.

Analytic Services & Reports for System Evaluation

Health system policy makers and providers looking to obtain research evidence to inform planning, policy and program development for the benefit of the entire Ontario healthcare system are also eligible to submit requests for DAS analytic and reporting services. Requestors will receive results reports that include summary results. DAS staff and scientists will work with the requestor to perform the analyses that generate the results report. Requests for non-research analytic services do not require REB approval.

To request analytic services for system evaluation, submit a completed ICES DAS Public Sector Request Form.

If you are unsure whether you are seeking data access or analytic services, please email or contact ICES DAS at 1-888-480-1327 (toll-free).

Support for Cohort & Longitudinal Follow-up Studies

ICES DAS may provide cohort lists only for the following purposes, subject to REB approval and other conditions that may apply; 1) to abstract or examine data from existing data sources (including but not limited to medical records, disease registries, human biological materials or genetic databases); or 2) to contact physicians or institutions for recruitment in research. Researchers interested in receiving a cohort list for the purposes of conducting publicly funded research may submit a request. DAS staff and scientists will work closely with the requestor to ensure the secure provision of only the necessary information required to conduct the research.

To request a cohort list, submit a completed ICES Cohort List Request Form.

ICES uses a unique 10-digit number to identify each individual in its data sets. The same encryption algorithm is used for all ICES data sets; this enables information to be linked from one data set to another and makes it possible to track an individual’s trajectory of care through the health system over time. Data availability and update frequency are subject to data sharing agreements made with the data custodians. Lag time varies depending on the data holding: for example, some data sets are updated as often as biweekly, others between one to two years.

View the ICES Data Dictionary for a comprehensive listing of data holdings available.

In addition, researchers may also link their own externally collected research data sets to ICES data.

Costs will vary depending on the type and complexity of the service request. ICES DAS staff are available to discuss the potential costs of data and analytic services. Ontario-based researchers and stakeholders are subsidized under the Ontario SPOR SUPPORT Unit (OSSU) for infrastructure costs.

Eligible Applied Health Research Questions (AHRQ) are conducted at no cost to the requestor. Find out more about the AHRQ process.

Linking externally collected data to ICES data will incur additional costs.

The time required to complete a study will depend on the type and complexity of the request. In general, project assessment and confirmation of feasibility will take less than one week. ICES DAS staff will provide more detailed timelines as they relate to particular requests.

Submitting a Request

The first step is to decide whether you would like to access a research-ready data extract on a secured virtual research environment, or whether you would like analytic services and/or reports. If you are unsure whether you are seeking data, analytic services or other forms of AHRQ response, please email or contact ICES DAS at 1-888-480-1327 (toll-free).

Submit a completed ICES DAS Public Sector Request Form.

For help completing the request form, see the DAS Request Form Information Sheet.