Data Access Questions

How do I get access to the data?

Requests to access the CLSA data are reviewed by the Data and Sample Access Committee (DSAC). Please consult the Data and Sample Access Policy and Guiding Principles, the pertinent sections of the CLSA protocol(s), the CLSA Data Collection Tools, and the information on the Data Access Application Process and timelines, before preparing an application. The steps involved in the data access process are also outlined here.

When are the data access application deadlines?

There are three data access application deadlines per year. For upcoming dates, please see the Application Deadlines page of our website under the Data Access section.

Do I need an institutional email address to access CLSA data?

Yes, approved users requiring access to CLSA data must use the email address of the institution with which they are affiliated. Data will only be released to institutional email addresses. Email addresses containing domain names such as Gmail, Hotmail, etc. are not acceptable.

How are alphanumeric data released to users?

The Data and Sample Access Committee (DSAC) reviews applications for the use of CLSA data and biospecimens and makes a recommendation to the CLSA Scientific Management Team (SMT). Once the project has been approved by the SMT, the CLSA Access Agreement has been signed, and proof of ethics approval has been received by the CLSA, the Statistical Analysis Centre will provide a download link for the dataset to the primary applicant. The link is valid for seven days and the number of downloads is determined by the number of project team members who have signed Schedule F of the CLSA Access Agreement, indicating that they require direct access to the data. It is the primary applicant’s responsibility to share the download link with the project team members who have signed Schedule F, and to ensure that all of the project team members respect the terms of the signed CLSA Access Agreement. Please refer to the CLSA Access Agreement for more information on the responsibilities of users.

Can I share the data?

Strict CLSA security and confidentiality rules are in place governing the use and sharing of CLSA data. The CLSA requires users to sign a CLSA Access Agreement that details the specific uses of data and the CLSA’s expectations with regard to privacy and confidentiality. Only the primary applicant and the project team members who have signed Schedule F of the CLSA Access Agreement or an approved Amendment are allowed to have direct access to the raw data. No approved user or member of their research team is allowed to share in whole, or in part the CLSA dataset with individuals who have not signed Schedule F of the CLSA Access Agreement, or an approved Amendment.

Can I add an investigator or a student to the project team, so that they may have access the data?

Yes, you can add personnel to your study while your CLSA Access Agreement is valid. Please request an Amendment Form by sending an email to, noting ‘Amendment Form Request’ in the subject line of your email. Once completed, please return the form to for review. Only once your amendment has been approved, and the CLSA Access Agreement has been amended (if required), can you allow the new person(s) access to the dataset and/or biospecimens.

What is the format of the alphanumeric dataset when released?

Data are provided to researchers in a comma-separated values (.csv) file. Please note that the Baseline CLSA alphanumeric dataset contains over 4000 variables collected from more than 51,000 participants. Depending on your choice of statistical software and proposed analyses, automatic data imports may not succeed and you may need to instruct your software how to read the file. This may require the use of advanced scripting and/or macros in some cases. The CLSA encourages you to include someone experienced in working with such complex datasets on your project team.

How long do I have to use and analyse the data once I receive them?

Researchers who have received data will have a specified time within which the proposed analyses must be completed. This timeframe is defined in the CLSA Access Agreement. If the analyses are not completed in this period, the applicant must either submit a request for a time extension or their data access agreement may be terminated (CLSA Access Agreement, Section 13). The CLSA will monitor the approved applications for adherence to the timeline. To make a request for a timeline extension, please request an Amendment Form by sending an email to, noting ‘Amendment Form Request’ in the subject line of your email.

How can I request biospecimens?

The anticipated release date for biospecimens is 2019. There will be one application deadline to submit biospecimen access requests per year. The application deadline is yet to be determined and will be posted on our website. For further information, please consult the Biospecimen Access Guidelines. For questions related to biospecimen access, please contact the Biorepository and Bioanalysis Centre (BBC) at

Can data access be expedited?

Data access cannot be expedited; all interested researchers are required to follow the same application procedures to gain access to the CLSA dataset. Please see the Data Access Application Process page and the Application Deadlines section of our website for further information.

Where can I find information on projects using the CLSA dataset?

Approved Project Summaries are posted under the Researchers Tab of our website.

Where can I find publications about and using the CLSA dataset?

Publications about the CLSA as well as those using CLSA data, can be found under Publications, in the Stay Informed section of our website.