Census RDC Research Proposal Guidelines
Persons wishing to conduct research at a Census Bureau Research Data Center (RDC) must submit a research proposal to the Center for Economic Studies (CES).
This RDC is a joint venture between the Census Bureau and the University of Michigan. Access to the MCRDC is provided at no charge to University of Michigan faculty and graduate students. Other researchers should inquire to the MCRDC for fee information.
After you and your administrator have developed your proposal, the proposal will be submitted to the CES for Census review. Researchers on approved projects must also complete a background investigation, including fingerprinting. It can take a number of months to complete these steps before you might expect to begin work.
Census has also partnered with the Agency for Health Care Research (AHRQ) and National Center for Healthcare Statistics (NCHS) to host health data projects in the RDCs. Proposals to use AHRQ or NCHS data are submitted to these agencies.
Researchers who wish to develop a proposal to conduct research at the Michigan Census Research Data Center (RDC) should first contact the RDC administrator. The researcher should discuss the proposed project with the administrator to determine whether the research fits with the Bureau’s mandate, is feasible, is likely to provide benefits to Census Bureau programs under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, is designed to produce model based statistical estimates, and that the research output will not pose undue risk of disclosing information about an individual survey respondent.
Once the RDC administrator and the researcher have agreed it is sensible to proceed, the researcher submits to the administrator a completed Preliminary Proposal. The administrator will review the summary, advise the researcher of any suggestions for refinement, and forward the document to the Lead Administrator at CES and Project Review Coordinator in the Census Bureau’s Research and Methodology Directorate.
CES encourages researchers to assess carefully the time period over which they request access. Requests for time extensions beyond the agreement end date undergo careful scrutiny, must be justified, and generally are granted for circumstances beyond the control of the researchers (e.g. unexpected illness). A typical proposal duration is 36 months. Requests for longer duration need to be justified.
The proposal should include the PI’s names as well as all names of researchers, including RAs, who will apply for sworn status and use the data in the RDC. We can host foreign citizens in the RDCs if they live in the U.S. Researchers who wish to work in the RDC but do not reside in the U.S. should discuss their circumstances with the RDC administrator early on in the application process. Doctoral students submitting a proposal for dissertation work are asked to include their primary advisor as a co-principal investigator. CES recommends that the advisor also apply for Special Sworn Status.
The final proposal consists of two separate documents in rtf (rich text) or doc/docx (MS-Word) format: project description and benefits statement. These documents are submitted to CES through your RDC administrator (e.g. email). It is expected that the proposal development process will include exchange of multiple iterations of the proposal, and in particular the benefit statement (called the Predominant Purpose Statement, PPS) with your RDC administrator before the final proposal is ready to be submitted. Your administrator is a resource for assistance in clarifying a range of potential issues, including topics related to feasibility and Census benefits.