How do I get access to Statistics Iceland's data for scientific research?

The demand for Statistics Iceland's microdata has increased in recent years and is likely to increase even more in the foreseeable future. Scientific journals are making increasing demands regarding the quality of data at the same time as it has become more difficult to get people to participate in scientific studies, especially in surveys. Statistics Iceland stores a diverse collection of data that meets quality requirements which can be used for scientific research purposes. The Act on Statistics Iceland states that the institute shall promote the use of its data for statistical scientific research.

All data collected by Statistics Iceland for the production of official statistics are defined as confidential data. Statistics Iceland is authorised to provide access to confidential data for scientific research in accordance with Article 13 of Act no. 163/2007. Confidentiality is a key factor in respecting privacy and therefore access is only granted to Icelandic researchers cooperating with a research institute/company which is a certified sponsor according to Statistics Iceland's criteria. Furthermore, data are not delivered but instead accessed remotely after the risk of disclosure in the data has been assessed and appropriate measures taken.

Applying for access to confidential data:

  1. Information from research services
  2. Certified sponsors of research
  3. Apply for access to scientific research data
  4. Researchers' costs of accessing confidential data
  5. Statistics Iceland takes a position on the request
  6. Traceability and data security
  7. Declaration of confidentiality and security
  8. Remote access to Statistics Iceland's research environment
  9. Data integration

1. Statistics Iceland’s research service

A good first step is to contact Statistics Iceland's research service and get information on how to apply for access to confidential data.

Arndís Vilhjálmsdóttir, research service.
E-mail: rannsoknathjonusta@hagstofa.is
Phone: +354 528 1033.

2. Certified sponsors of research

Statistics Iceland authorises Icelandic universities, research institutes/companies and public bodies to apply for access to confidential data if they meet the necessary requirements to obtain the status of a certified sponsor. To apply for the position of certified sponsor, you must fill out an application and send it to Statistics Iceland’s research services via the e-mail address: rannsoknathjonusta@hagstofa.is. The following research institutes/companies have the status of a certified sponsor according to the criteria of Statistics Iceland:

List of sponsors:
deCode genetics
ICS Research and Registration Center
Landspítali - The National University Hospital of Iceland
Marine and Freshwater Research Institute
School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland
School of Social Sciences, University of Iceland
The Central Bank of Iceland
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs
The Ministry of Industries and Innovation
The Ministry of Social Affairs
The University of Reykjavik

3. Apply for access to scientific research data

In order to apply for access to confidential data for scientific research, an application must be filled out in which researchers register e.g. information about the sponsor of the study, researchers, objectives, hypotheses, implementation and scientific value of the study, what parameters researchers require to carry out the study, why access to confidential data is important for the research project, what statistical methods will be used to process the data, where the results will be published, and when the study will be conducted.

Researchers can get assistance in filling out the application from the research service via the e-mail address rannsoknathjonusta@hagstofa.is and the telephone number +354 528 1033. When the application is completed, it must be delivered to the research service. In addition to the application, a copy of a notification to or permission from the Icelandic Data Protection Authority must be sent to the research service if required in accordance with the Act on The Protection of Privacy as regards the Processing of Personal Data. A copy of the National Bioethics Committee’s permit must also be sent if required in accordance with the Regulation on Scientific Research within the Health Sector.

4. Researchers' costs of accessing confidential data

When all the necessary information has been received by the research service, the cost of accessing the data is estimated and submitted to the researcher for approval. Access to confidential data is paid for according to Statistics Iceland's price list. Once the researcher has approved the cost, the request is formally processed by Statistics Iceland.

5. Statistics Iceland examines the request

After all the necessary information has been received and the researcher has approved the estimated costs, Statistics Iceland will process the application formally. Statistics Iceland approves or rejects the data request in accordance with the institution’s criteria for access to confidential data for scientific research and notifies the researcher of its conclusion. After Statistics Iceland's approval has been obtained, its experts will begin preparing the requested data.

6. Traceability and data security

Statistics Iceland only provides access to confidential data after any direct or indirect identification has been removed. Once data has been prepared in accordance with the data request, the research service assesses the risk of traceability of the dataset (statistical disclosure control) and takes appropriate measures. For example, the research service may decide to merge categories in categorical variables if it considers that there is a risk of indirect traceability.

In order to ensure data protection, Statistics Iceland provides access to data through secure remote access. In exceptional cases, Statistics Iceland can enrich the researcher's data by adding specific background variables. Access to micro-data is always granted via remote access to Statistics Iceland research environment. Microdata is never delivered directly to researchers. Statistics Iceland reserves the right to define more variables as sensitive than is the case in the Data Protection Act.

Only researchers who have received the approval of the National Bioethics Committee or the informed consent of all participants that Statistics Iceland's data are linked to other information can apply for an exemption from the submission of data via remote access.

7. Declaration of confidentiality and security

Before granting access to the data, the researcher signs a statement that he is aware of the security measures that Statistics Iceland will take to ensure the confidentiality and security of the data, which obligations the researcher has in order to make certain that confidentiality and security is ensured and what the consequences are in case of a violation of confidentiality or data protection laws.

8. Remote access to Statistics Iceland's research environment

The researcher is granted temporary remote access to Statistics Iceland's research environment, which stores the requested confidential data along with the required software. Data access requires a username and password provided by the research service. Statistics Iceland does not provide researchers with software for statistical analysis, but each sponsor can provide its researchers with access to the software it chooses through Statistics Iceland's research environment.

The researcher agrees with the research service on the time he has access to the data. The researcher pays for each day he has access to the data. Access can be temporarily put on hold if the researcher foresees that he will not work on the data for a certain period of time which will see the daily amount reduced.

9. Data integration

Statistics Iceland offers synchronisation of the data provided by the institution and other data from the researcher or from a third party. After synchronisation, the researcher is granted access to the entire dataset in Statistics Iceland's research environment.