Tips for preparing a CLSA Data Access Application


  • Initiate the application if you are the trainee on the project. If the supervisor initiates the application, the trainee cannot be added.
  • Specify the fee waiver on trainee applications.
  • Include ALL project team members in Part 1, “Project Team”, on the application.
  • Provide institutional email accounts for ALL applicants and project team members (gmail, hotmail, etc. are not acceptable).
  • Write your lay summary in language that is easy to understand and limit it to no more than 1,000 characters.
  • Work within character limits outlined in all sections of the application.
  • Make your research objectives clear and concise. Objectives should constitute a single research project.
  • Provide sufficient detail to describe the proposed analysis and clearly define research outcomes.
  • Specify the data collection waves (e.g., Baseline, Follow-up 1, etc.) in the proposal.
  • Provide the rationale in the proposal for the variable modules chosen in the data checklist. Variables do not need to be listed individually in the proposal.
  • Select all variable modules described in the proposal in the data checklist.
  • Provide adequate justification when selecting images and raw data or geographic indicators in the data checklist.


  • Select both CLSA cohorts (Tracking and Comprehensive) if the project requires data only from the Comprehensive dataset (e.g., physical assessments, biomarker data, genomics, epigenetics, images, etc.).
  • Include data in your proposal that the CLSA does not collect or has not released
  • Select images and raw data if only alphanumeric data (included in physical assessments module except for cognition data in questionnaire module) are required to undertake the project.
  • Copy and paste text into your application without checking for truncated results.

Tips to avoid delays in the data access process

  • Review the sample CLSA Access Agreement. You will need to obtain the signatures of all co-applicants who require direct access to the dataset.

  • Know who your contact person is at the Contracts and Grants department of your institution. You will need this information for the signature section of the CLSA Access Agreement. Often the longest delay in data access is due to the time it takes institutions to sign the agreement.
  • When planning for your project, please include in your timeframe at least six (6) months from the application submission deadline to the time you receive your dataset. Detailed information on the data access process is available here.
  • Make sure you apply to the Research Ethics Board at your institution as soon as possible. No CLSA data can be released without proof of valid ethics approval.