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Data Access

Overview of application process

A research group leader or Principal Investigator should apply for data access using the Data Access Application Form found on the IRIS website. A downloadable PDF version is also available. Review of an application is typically completed within one week once all materials are received. If approved, all research group members will be asked to:

  • Submit the IRIS Restricted Data Use Agreement (RDUA) signed by your institutional official (usually in the office of sponsored programs) and all research group members as authorized users.
  • Submit an IRB determination letter from your institution (we recommend one institution serving as the IRB of Record if multiple institutions are involved)
  • Pay the administrative seat fee (applicable only for researchers not affiliated with an IRIS member university)
  • View a brief video on online data security rules
  • Each VDE user must sign and agree to the IRIS Virtual Data Enclave Acceptable Use Policy


Required documents and training

Data access application form

The Data Access Application form is an online document available through the IRIS website, or via a downloadable PDF. To prepare this form the primary applicant/principal investigator should first collect the following information:

  • Contact information for:
    • Primary applicant
    • University administrative contact (for Restricted Data Use Agreement)
    • Faculty sponsor, if applicable (student applicants only)
    • Research collaborators, if applicable (i.e., any additional team members who will also need data access)
    • Research administrator who will handle payment of seat fees
    • Phone information for two-factor authentication
  • Research proposal information, including:
    • Research title
    • Research location
    • Funding sources
    • Anticipated start and end dates
    • Research objectives
    • Expected results
    • Research benefits
    • A copy of the IRB determination letter

IRB determination letter

All applicants are required to attach the IRB determination letter from a sponsoring institution when applying for access to the IRIS data for research purposes. If you have collaborators at other institutions you may be able to identify one institution that will serve as the IRB of record for the project (eliminating the need for multiple determinations).

IRIS Restricted Use Data Agreement (RDUA)

The Restricted Data Use Agreement is an agreement between the researcher’s institution and the University of Michigan Board of Regents. This document requires a signature from the institutional official for the researcher’s home institution as well as a separate RDUA for any additional institutions represented by the research group. Research team members will all sign as “Authorized Researchers” for their home institution and will acknowledge the terms of the RDUA by signing it.

IRIS VDE Acceptable Use Policy

All members of the research group who will have data access will be asked to read and sign the IRIS Virtual Data Enclave (VDE) Acceptable Use Policy, which will be provided to the researcher as part of the online training module. This document is also available to review on the IRIS website. The AUP is a commitment from the researcher to behave in ways that help us keep our promises to the data providers (the universities).

IRIS VDE Training

After receiving the required signed documents and any applicable seat fee (see Fee requirements below for details), the IRIS Research Team will communicate with all research team members using the email addresses provided on the application to provide online training. Completion of this training is mandatory prior to receiving VDE account login information.

Fee requirements

The annual membership fee that IRIS member institutions pay includes access to de-identified IRIS data for their affiliated researchers. IRIS data are available (through the application process) to researchers from non-member institutions as well. These non-affiliated researchers will be charged a non-refundable seat fee of $1250 per person annually ($625 for students) to access the IRIS data. Seat fees will be charged for any non-affiliated researchers even if they are part of a research application with IRIS members.

Upon acceptance as an applicant to use IRIS data, IRIS will invoice the researcher for the seat fee, which will be prorated depending upon the application acceptance date. This seat fee covers the administrative expenses of creating the data files and documentation, research support services and disclosure review, access and use of the IRIS virtual data enclave, technology updates, and the costs of administering the contract.


Account renewal process

As described in the terms of the Data Use Agreement, researchers are given access to the IRIS data through the virtual data enclave (VDE) through the duration of their research project as approved by IRIS, contingent upon completion of the annual account renewal procedures. Account renewal happens annually in August regardless of the original application acceptance date. To maintain access to the IRIS data, each year the researcher must:


  • Pay annual invoice to IRIS, if applicable
  • Submit updated IRB determination letter, if applicable
  • Submit a brief progress report
  • Submit a list of any applicable publications using IRIS data
  • Submit a list of any grant(s) using IRIS data from a previous year
  • Review and sign the IRIS VDE Acceptable Use Policy
  • Complete a brief online IRIS VDE training
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