This section is designed to assist researchers who are applying for linked data as part of a research project through the application process. There are eight data linkage units within the PHRN and each unit’s application process differs slightly. As a result the information provided here is an overview of the stages involved and identifies the various groups involved in the process. For a more detailed description of the application process relevant to you, visit the website of the DLU that will be linking the data. A list of the DLUs, the jurisdictions they cover and their website addresses is available here.
Step 1 – Review website
Review the website of the data linkage unit(s) from which you are requesting data for: information about the data collections available; any mandatory training; and details of the application process. Ensure that you also visit the PHRN website if you are planning on conducting a cross jurisdictional project.
Step 2 – Contact client services
Applicants are strongly advised to contact client services via phone or email before applying for data. Be sure to discuss any questions, doubts or concerns you have before you begin your application. Contact details of Client Services are available here.
Step 3 – Submit an expression of interest
Researchers can submit an expression of interest, also sometimes referred to as a draft to their jurisdictional data linkage unit or the data linkage unit who is expected to conduct the linkage. A list of the data linkage units and the jurisdictions they cover is available here.
This 'expression of interest' stage provides client services with the opportunity to advise researchers whether the data requested is appropriate for the purposes of the study, give guidance on issues such as data availability and quality and suggest changes.
Step 4 – Formal application submission
Once submitted, the application will be reviewed by client services to ensure it is complete and well-conceived prior to forwarding it, on behalf of the researcher, to the relevant data custodians for review.
After feedback has been received from the relevant data custodians, researchers are required to amend their application to incorporate suggested changes. Researchers are required to send the final version of their formal application to client services for review. This helps to ensure that the researcher has addressed all of the feedback provided and incorporated required changes and assists in improving the efficiency in the submission to ethics and subsequent release of data.
At this stage the data custodian will provide in principle support, conditional approval or reject the application. Note that data custodians typically will not provide final approval until the project has received ethics approval.
Researchers will also receive a feasibility letter stating that the linkage is technically feasible and that the data linkage unit is able to do it.
Step 5 – Seek HREC approval
In most jurisdictions, researchers are encouraged to apply for ethics approval after they have received conditional approval from each of the data custodians from which they are requesting data and the technical feasibility letter from the relevant data linkage unit(s). The client services officer of the DLU who is linking your data should be able to provide you with guidance on this.