Restricted Data

Restricted data refers generally to a class of data which is not publicly available to all researchers because of concerns about protecting the confidentiality of respondent information. For major survey research studies there is often a small subset of the larger study for which special use permission is required.

Access of restricted data typically involves the preparation of a Data Use Agreement (DUA) which is submitted by the researcher to the data distribution agency. When approved, the agency distributes the data under the terms of the agreement, which usually has a fixed time limit and will have specific technical requirements associated with it. This process often goes hand-in-hand with an Institutional Review Board (IRB) process done at the university.

DUAs vary widely in structure. The limits of the data provider will always prevail, but within those limits various configurations are often possible. DUAs often require dedicated hardware and software, special networking or off-the-network provisions and technical expertise that individual researchers may not have.

As researchers in Sociology consider their options for DUAs, they should consult with Bob Jackson for help on coming up with a workable approach that meets their needs and research style.

One of the most widely used restricted data studies in recent years has been the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), 1994-2008. Because of strong demand, Sociology has developed a dedicated, restricted data file server on which Add Health data are housed. Under this model, a user with an approved data use plan can be added to the Add Health contract and provided access to the data through a mount to the specific machine at Duke on which they have agreed to perform their analysis. All original and derived data must remain on the server at all times. Jim Moody is the principal investigator on this contract; Bob Jackson is the technical administrator. The link below provides additional information on the data use agreement requirements. No user should apply for access unless you understand and are willing to adhere to these requirements.

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