Data centre open to all faculty

Dr. Tom Perks (Sociology) is turning his enthusiasm for data into a four-year term as the academic director for the Statistics Canada Research Data Centre (RDC) here on campus. And, he wants to encourage as many researchers as possible to take advantage of the unique data clearinghouse.

As a long-time user of other data centres in Edmonton and Calgary, Perks understands the convenience of having
access to significant amounts of StatsCan data, close to home. He is currently working on a project that matches changes in participation in sports with the recent Vancouver Olympics, and is able to do that using General Social Survey data.

"While use of the RDC has been steady, we're hoping that we can expand its availability to even more faculty, students, and members of the U of L community," says Perks. "The RDC provides access to detailed microdata including unaggregated data (at the individual, household or family levels), sensitive variables, precise geographic variables and longitudinal survey results."

"In addition, the RDC offers a great opportunity for graduate students and senior undergraduate students looking to become more familiar with how Statistics Canada works and to make use of Canadian data that otherwise would be not available to them," he adds.

To access the data at the RDC, researchers must submit a project proposal justifying the need to use microdata files, as opposed to the public-use versions of the data. Individual researchers, research teams led by the principal applicant and graduate students may apply.

"In the future we'll be looking to host campus-wide seminars to introduce potential users of the RDC to Statistics Canada datasets, as well as the process of applying," he says.

The Centre is currently open from Tuesday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Perks says there is a great deal of flexibility in scheduling.

Interested researchers are welcome to contact either Perks ( or Statistical Assistant Amber Zary at

This story first appeared in the October 2012 issue of the Legend. To see the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.