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The new Triangle Research Data Center (TRDC) housed in the Carolina Population Center (CPC) presents a wealth of otherwise unavailable microdata from various federal statistical agencies.

Triangle Research Data Center logoA new branch of the TRDC is now open at UNC-Chapel Hill, making it the second center to partner with the Federal Statistical Research Data Center (FSRDC) program in the Triangle. The site is co-directed by CPC sociologist Ted Mouw and Duke University’s Daniel Xu. Researchers can apply to access and perform statistical analysis on datasets from the U.S. Census Bureau’s economic, health, and demographic censuses and surveys — some of the largest and most important sources of statistical information in the country.

“The TRDC will increase the number of researchers at Carolina with access to this meaningful data and enhance the collaborative research culture in the process,” Mouw says.

Here’s a quick overview of what to expect from the TRDC.

How does the center benefit Carolina research?

Frequent users of FSRDCs are graduate students, faculty, researchers, and non-academic researchers. The data available spans a range of research topics including economics, business, public health, demography, sociology, medicine, statistics, criminology, and many other disciplines.

“Think of an iceberg. The dataset that’s publicly available from the U.S. Census Bureau is just the small portion you see above water,” Mouw says. “The TRDC gives you access to what’s below the water — an incredible amount of data that isn’t commonly seen.”

Where does the data come from?

Several federal agencies provide restricted data to researchers through the FSRDCs, including the Census Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

Agencies may enter a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau at any time to share their data in the FSRDCs. You can find the most comprehensive up-to-date list at the Census Bureau website.

How do I gain access?

The proposal process for accessing TRDC data involves several steps — including a preliminary proposal and a final proposal. All proposals for conducting research using Census confidential data inside the TRDC are reviewed based on five major criteria: benefits to the Census Bureau, scientific merit, need for non-public data, feasibility, and risk of disclosure.

The approval process for accessing the TRDC can be lengthy and varies depending on which  datasets users wish to analyze. Center staff can give guidance through the process, but users should contact them as early as possible about prospective projects.

Read more about the TRDC here.

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