The PSID has promised anonymity to its respondents and protection of their data to the fullest extent available by federal and state law. The PSID takes this promise very seriously, and it is the basis for the contract process. No individually identifying information (e.g., name, address) will ever be provided as the basis for research, even under contract.

The materials and process needed to apply for PSID restricted data are described below. Access to PSID restricted data may be obtained in two ways: a) using data on a standalone, non-networked personal computer at the user’s home institution or b) through an enclave supported by the Michigan Center on the Demography on Aging (MiCDA). As described in detail on the MiCDA webpage, the MiCDA Enclave provides a secure computing environment for accessing restricted data files, including both a secure physical location at the Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor, as well as secure remote access through a Virtual Data Enclave. A variety of software applications are available for use in the enclave.

Both methods require establishing a contract between the user’s institution and the University of Michigan. Both methods require that the user submit the following materials (see below for description): curriculum vitae, research plan, data protection plan, human subjects review and certification, order form, and $750 non-refundable administration fee.

Review of the application is typically completed within two weeks once all materials are received. Once approval is granted, PSID sends the contract to the applicant for institutional signature. For the vast majority of contracts, signatures are obtained within several weeks. The time to complete the contract may be longer if the requesting institution representatives wish to negotiate contract language with the University of Michigan. We have been successful negotiating contracts in virtually all situations. Please submit application materials electronically to:


Curriculum Vitae
Review the memo Personnel Requirements for Obtaining PSID Restricted Data to ensure that you and your staff meet the requirements for obtaining the data. Submit a copy of your academic resume or curriculum vitae as well as those of all participating research staff.

Research Plan
Applicants for PSID restricted data must provide a short (1-3 page) research proposal that includes a synopsis (or a full statement, if necessary) of the goals of the research and specifies:
  • the types of variables from the PSID restricted data you intend to use in your research;
  • what other data, if any, you plan to merge with the PSID restricted data.
  • why you believe the unrestricted versions of those variables, if any, are not adequate for your research purposes. For example, “State of residence” for the respondent is available on the PSID public-use file, and may meet the needs of some research projects as well as finer levels of geography that are restricted.
Individuals who are applying for Census Block and Census Block-Group data must describe the exact links they plan to make to Census data. This information is described here:
Special Information for Requests for Census Block and Block-Group Data.

Data Protection Plan
You may apply to use the data at your own institution or through the MiCDA enclave, which offers virtual access and a physical location at ISR in Ann Arbor.

1) Accessing the Data at Own Institution on Standalone PC:
Review the memo Data Protection Plan Requirements and Guidelines for Obtaining PSID Restricted Data and investigate mechanisms that are available to you to meet the requirements at your institution’s site. You may wish to consult with your local IT staff representative as you describe how you will meet the PSID restricted data protection requirements.
  Any changes in the work environment that occur during an active contract require the submission of a new data protection plan specific to the new work environment. Use on laptop computers and from personal residences is not permitted.

2) Accessing the Data through the MiCDA Virtual Data Enclave:
Please review and complete the MiCDA Acceptable Use Policy, the VDI-Data Security Plan, and the ISR Confidentiality Pledge.

Human Subjects Review and Certification
Human Subjects Review. You must provide evidence of review by your institution’s Institutional Review Board/Human Subjects Review Committee/Privacy Board. No exempt or abbreviated review, or lower standards, such as are sometimes used for "secondary data analysis", may be used in this aspect of the human subjects review. A letter of approval or other documentation should be submitted electronically along with the Certification document below.

Certification. The Chairperson of your institution's Institutional Review Board/Human Subjects Review Committee/Privacy Board must certify that the Board/Committee has reviewed and approved your Restricted Data Protection Plan (and the portions of your Research Plan that deal with respondent anonymity and data security, if any), as approved by PSID, in accordance with the standards and procedures used for live human subjects. This memo Certification of Human Subjects Review should be used for the certification.

Order Form
The Order form should be submitted with the application materials. Researchers must substantiate in their Research Plan their use of any Restricted Data File(s) that they are requesting.

Contract for Use of Restricted Data
Upon approval of the application materials by Restricted Data Committee, an e-version of the Contract(s) for Use of PSID Restricted Data will be sent for institutional signature. The Investigator(s), Co-Investigator (if any) and the Research Assistants, and Representative of the Receiving Institution must sign the contract. The Representative is someone authorized to enter into contractual agreements on behalf of the Receiving Institution. The Representative then sends the electronically signed contract back to the PSID at the University of Michigan where representatives for PSID, MiCDA and the University of Michigan sign the contract. After University of Michigan representatives electronically sign the contracts, a fully executed electronic agreement will be sent to the investigator or appropriate parties upon request.

Note: In the event that the Investigator changes institutions, the current contract is no longer valid and a new contract must be completed that includes a revised data protection plan reflecting the new work environment and Human Subjects Review by the investigator’s new institution. All original data and any derived analysis files must be returned to the PSID until the new contract is established, signed and fully executed.

Fee Requirements
A non-refundable administrative fee in the amount of $750 must be submitted with the signed contracts. The fee covers the expense of creating and shipping the data files and documentation, for up to four hours of consultation with the PSID user services staff, and the cost of administering the contract.