Research 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
  • IRB determination status (approved/exempt/not regulated/pending) and 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 Data Use 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 (AUP)

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. Effective August 1, 2018, 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

Data Application FAQ

Can a graduate student apply for data access?

If a graduate student wishes to apply for IRIS data access, he or she must be sponsored by a faculty member who supervises the student’s work. If the graduate student is the primary applicant they must also include this faculty sponsor’s information on the IRIS Data Access Application Form.

How should researchers complete the Restricted Data Use Agreement?

In Section 2 on the first page of the Restricted Data Use Agreement there is space for “Authorized Researchers” where an applicant and the applicant’s research collaborators’ names should appear. Researchers should also include printed names, signatures, and dates on page 4 of the document.

Before submitting the RDUA to the Institutional Official, a researcher should complete both Appendix A and B. Appendix A should include the IRIS data files requested by the researcher (the text of “Current UMETRICS dataset” is suggested). Appendix B should include the research proposal abstract and the projected end date for the proposed project.

Once the RDUA is completed it should be returned to IRIS. IRIS will submit the signed RDUA to the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects at the University of Michigan for execution.

Who should sign the Restricted Data Use Agreement?

On the RDUA form, the “Institution” signature should be an Institutional Official. Every university has at least one individual who serves as an Institutional Official who is approved to sign contracts and other legally binding documents. Often, that individual can be found in a sponsored research office or a vice president for research office. Check with a knowledgeable administrator to identify the appropriate individual serving as Institutional Official. A department chair or dean’s signature is not sufficient for this form, unless that individual also happens to be the Institutional Official.

The “Authorized Researchers” signature(s) should include all research team members who will be given a login for IRIS data access.

What if my research group spans multiple institutions?

If a research group includes individuals from multiple institutions, each institution needs to be represented with a separate IRIS Data Use Agreement and IRB determination letter, as applicable.

What if my research group includes graduate students?

Graduate students must also sign the IRIS Restricted Data Use Agreement.

What if my Institutional Official wants to make changes to the Restricted Data Use Agreement?

If your Institutional Official will not sign the RDUA as it is currently written, the document may be modified but it will cause a delay in receiving IRIS data while your institutional official and University of Michigan officials negotiate. IRIS is not involved in nor in control of this process.

To request a modification, download this Word Document version of the IRIS Restricted Data Use Agreement and use the “Track changes” feature (found under the Review tab) to indicate all requested changes. Fill out the appropriate institutional name (“Institution”), the name(s) and signature(s) of researcher(s) requesting access (“Authorized Researchers”) and select an appropriate effective date. Forward a copy of the redlined RDUA to IRIS, who will bring the suggested modification to our Contracts Office for review. If the modification is accepted, the RDUA will be returned to your institutional official for their signature.

Can I make changes to my research proposal after my application is approved?

Researchers must notify the IRIS Research Team in writing of any proposed changes in research plans. All proposed changes are subject to IRIS approval.

Can I make changes to my research group after my application is approved?

Researchers must notify the IRIS Research Team in writing if any research collaborators are to be added or removed from the approved project. If a research group member leaves the project their unique VDE account must be terminated immediately for security reasons. Research team members may be added at any time and will be charged a prorated seat fee, if applicable.

Is access to the IRIS UMETRICS research data release available for non-research purposes such as program evaluation?

Yes. To apply for access to the IRIS UMETRICS data for purposes other than research, please submit the following materials to

  1. A statement of the purpose for which access to data is required, including plans to post findings on websites or social media and publication (generally no more than 1 page)
  2. Signature on the IRIS Restricted Data Use Agreement by user and an institutional official
  3. An IRB determination letter from the IRIS member institution’s Institutional Review Board
  4. Completion of the IRIS VDE Acceptable Use Policy
  5. Completion of IRIS VDE training

When the application for access to IRIS data for non-research purposes has been approved you will be notified and provided with more details.

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