The Graduate Student Data Access Program (GSDAP)

What is the GSDAP?

CIHI provides data to qualifying graduate students at no cost through the Graduate Student Data Access Program (GSDAP). Graduate students conducting research can access data through various databases and clinical registries in the following areas:

The GSDAP has two objectives:

  • To build the capacity of graduate students to undertake health service research; and
  • To increase awareness of CIHI and CIHI’s data holdings, and the importance of data quality and privacy, as graduate students pursue health service careers.

Eligibility Criteria for the GSDAP

Data may be provided under CIHI’s Graduate Student Data Access Program for requests that meet the following criteria:

  1. Data are to be used by the student to fulfill graduate requirements (for example, master’s thesis, PhD dissertation or medical research fellow requirements).
  2. The research project was reviewed by a research ethics board (as appropriate).
  3. The research project will support CIHI’s mandate to provide accurate and timely information that is required for sound health policy, effective management of the health care system and public awareness of health determinants.

Priority will be given to graduate students enrolled full or part time at recognized universities in Canada.

Data will not be provided under the GSDAP in the following cases:

  1. The request for data is made on behalf of a supervisor who is conducting independent research.
  2. Either the student requesting the data or his or her supervisor has received financial support to obtain data for the research project.
  3. The data requested involves data linkage that will be resource-intensive for the database area to complete.

In these cases data can be requested directly from the database area. For more information, see

Expected Timelines

CIHI can begin processing the data request of successful applicants once all necessary documents and data requirements are finalized and received at CIHI. Depending on the request, this will involve discussion with the program area and CIHI’s privacy office.

In general, it will take a minimum of one to three months for applicants to receive the data from the time the completed application documentation is received and finalized at CIHI. The time to complete all of the documentation associated with the application, and the time it takes to process the data request and subsequently release the data, will depend on the nature of the request (for example, aggregate versus record-level data) and the volume of other data requests currently being addressed by the database area.

GSDAP Application Process

Step 1: Student Consultation With Program Area

Potential applicants should complete the Data inquiry form, clearly indicating GSDAP by checking off GSDAP on the form, at least one month prior to submitting the application to discuss eligibility and the feasibility of using CIHI data to answer the research question.

Step 2: Pre-Screening With Database Area to Review Data Requested

The program area will pre-screen the potential application (with CIHI’s privacy office if necessary) to ensure data availability and ability to release data in accordance with CIHI’s privacy and data-release policies and practices.

Step 3: Student Submission of Application Package

Based on the pre-screening, the program area will recommend whether the student should submit an application package.

The following documents are to be submitted with your GSDAP application, in addition to those requested in the Data Request Form.

  1. A letter of intent from the applicant signed by the applicant; the supervisor(s); and the chair of the department (three signatures), confirming that the applicant is enrolled as a full-time or part-time student in a graduate program, and that the analysis of the requested data will be undertaken by the student and used to fulfill degree requirements.
  2. The CIHI Client Information Request Form for Aggregate Data and Non-Disclosure/ Confidentiality Agreement for Aggregate Data, or the Third-Party Record-Level Data Request Form and Third-Party Record-Level Data Non-Disclosure/Confidentiality Agreement.
  3. Information Security Form
  4. CIHI Project Funding Disclosure Form (PDF)

Step 4: CIHI Review of Application and Preparation of Data Set or Data Tables

The program area will perform a more detailed screening of the application, including the data elements requested and conformance to data access restrictions.

The data set will be prepared by the database area according to specifications developed in consultation with the student.

Step 5: Release of CIHI Data

The database area will make final arrangements with the student for the release of CIHI data.

Data Request Tips

  1. Develop a clear statement of purpose or research question.
  2. Refer to existing published CIHI reports and QuickStats on the CIHI website. This data is publicly available and does not require a data request through the GSDAP.
  3. Review the CIHI website for CIHI’s data holdings and privacy requirements.
  4. Use information on CIHI’s website to identify a database and data elements that might be able to address your question.
  5. Determine whether you will require aggregate or record-level data.
  6. Visit the FAQ section for answers to common questions.

Submit Data Inquiry

Frequently Asked Questions