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Rules for access to anonymised microdata for research purposes

Access to anonymised microdata is becoming increasingly important to the scientific research community. The State Statistical Office (SSO) of the Republic of Macedonia provides researchers with access to the available anonymised microdata, in accordance with established good practices in the European Statistical System. Access is granted on the condition that the obligations of confidentiality, deriving from the Law on State Statistics (Official Gazette No. 54/1997, 21/2007, 51/2011, 104/2013, 42/2014 and 192/2015 and 27/16) and the rules and internal procedures of the SSO, are met. Any access to anonymised microdata is allowed under clear and strict conditions and procedures that are closely monitored to ensure that there is no violation of any legally established principles for safeguarding statistical confidentiality.
Anonymised microdata represent individual statistical records on which statistical methods for protection against statistical disclosure have been applied, thereby preventing identification of the statistical units to which they refer.
In accordance with legal regulations and international practice, the Director of the SSO has established an advisory body – the Statistical Confidentiality Committee. Requests for access to anonymised microdata and the fulfilment of the necessary conditions are considered by the Committee. The right of access to anonymised microdata is based on signed agreements between the SSO and researchers (or institutions) and signed declarations of confidentiality protection.
Work with anonymised microdata is enabled in a protected environment, i.e. "safe room" at the SSO, where researchers may analyse anonymised microdata. The safe room of the SSO is equipped with a protected workstation and software (Microsoft Office, SAS, STATA).
All outputs, in electronic format, must be checked and approved by the SSO before they can be removed from the safe room.
Researchers requesting access to anonymised microdata must meet the following conditions:

  • to submit a research proposal with specific details on the objectives and the expected results of the proposed research work.
  • the research proposal must demonstrate that there are no alternatives to using anonymised microdata for the research.
  • to agree to provide the SSO with a copy of all outputs that are made publicly available.

Furthermore, researchers are obliged to the following:

  • access to anonymised data that is granted for one purpose may not be used for another purpose without prior approval of the SSO
  • to provide specific information about their plans to publish outputs.
  • when publishing outputs, it must be clearly stated that the source of data from which the results have been prepared is the State Statistical Office.

Generally, access to data may be granted if the purpose for which the data are collected is consistent with the research proposal. The SSO will provide access to the subset of the data necessary to undertake the research and will determine the appropriate level of protection required for the data. Access will also be given to available microdata, metadata and information about the quality of the data to enable effective use of the data.
The State Statistical Office will not allow access to microdata, collected under the Law on State Statistics, for commercial gain.

Available documents:

1. Policy on access to anonymised microdata for scientific research purposes
2. Form for requesting anonymised microdata
3. Guidelines on work organisation in the safe room


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