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Microdata

SLiCA Microdata

In addition to publishing results of the Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic, the SLiCA international team is committed to making the data accessible to researchers and Native organizations for further analysis. By making the data accessible, we mean providing an opportunity to access the individual records of answers given in interviews conducted around the Arctic.

A major challenge to making data from the Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic accessible is the absolute necessity of maintaining the confidentiality of results. Researchers promised that what an individual said in an interview could not be identified with them. While it is easy to remove names, addresses and other identifying information, the remaining data might be used to identify individuals.

Our original proposals called for creation of a "micro-data set" (that is, a data file containing individual records) that would protect the confidentiality of respondents through a combination of removal of personal identifiers and grouping of response categories that might be used to identify respondents. As we become more experienced with the data set and pursue our analysis questions, we have become aware of the limitation this approach will place on future researchers. All geographic identifiers, for example, might have to be removed.

Additional funding will be required to make it possible for indigenous organizations and researchers to access SLiCA microdata without putting the confidentiality of respondents at risk. Recognizing that the challenges of archiving of Arctic social science data for future researchers is a general challenge facing the Arctic research community, the SLiCA team collaborated with the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan and the Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) program at Berkeley in an IPY proposal to develop a proposal for research that would create a remote access analysis capability for the Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic.

The idea behind remote access analysis capability is to provide web-based access of researchers to data. We propose to extend this idea to the use of data sets that must be restricted to preserve the confidentiality of data. Researchers at The University of Michigan and Berkeley will work with us to provide researchers with the opportunity to conduct analyses using the full range of statistical techniques while ensuring that the data itself cannot be downloaded or viewed as individual records. We will also develop programming which ensures that researchers do not request tabulations that are so detailed as to potentially reveal the identity of respondents.

The SLiCA team submitted its proposal, Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic: Remote Access Analysis System to the National Science Foundation in December 2005. See the Project Summary and Project Description. Unfortunately, this proposal was declined. The SLiCA team is now looking for another opportunity to submit a revised proposal. The major stumbling block is demonstrating a demand for access to the database. If you have ideas about this, please contact the SLiCA team!

contacts Birger Poppel (bipo@ilisimatusarfik.gl) and Jack Kruse (afjak@uaa.alaska.edu )

In the meantime, the SLiCA team will produce a microdata set to archive and share with other researchers that minimizes the chances of inadvertent disclosure of individual respondents. We anticipate that this data set will be available in the fall of 2007 to qualified researchers who commit to meeting the conditions of use of the data set. See our discussion of data sharing conditions.