Restricted Use Data Licensing

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The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation (NSF) grants licenses to securely access restricted use microdata files under certain conditions. Licenses are only needed for microdata not available in public use files.
Restricted use microdata licenses are available from NCSES for the following:
  • Early Career Doctorate Survey (ECDS)
  • National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG)
  • National Survey of Recent College Graduates (NSRCG)
  • Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT) Integrated File
  • Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR)
  • Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED)/Doctorate Record File (DRF)
Individuals within an institution or organization may request access to these microdata through the NCSES restricted use data request portal using the instructions below. Additionally, some NCSES restricted use microdata are available in the Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (FSRDC).FSRDCs also store microdata from other agencies; the restricted use microdata available in the FSRDCs can be explored here.

How to Obtain a Restricted Use Data License from NCSES

  1. Navigate to the NCSES restricted use data access online portal:
  2. Create an account and submit a project application. The application should include data requirements, a research plan, and a list of the specific restricted data-use variables required. The data requirements and research plan form is available for reference here: Data Requirements and Research Plan (37 KB) . A data dictionary for the most recent cycle of available surveys is also available for reference: NCSES SDAF Data Dictionary (1.2 MB) .
  3. Once the research plan and data requirements from the project application have been approved, applicants can download and complete the full license application from the online portal. For a license application to be considered complete, the researcher must (1) fill out the appropriate application forms, (2) obtain signatures from a senior official at the university who has the authority to enter the institution into a legal agreement with NSF and a system security officer who can attest to the security of the institution’s systems, (3) complete the NCSES security training, and (4) execute affidavits of nondisclosure.
  4. Once the license application is completed, applicants should submit it via the online portal. After approval, NCSES will provide instructions on accessing the restricted use data through our Secure Data Access Facility.
When considering the research plan and the license application, applicants should review the NCSES Policy on Matching Data to Restricted Use Data Sets (35 KB) .

How to Amend an Existing License

  1. If an existing license needs to be amended (i.e., add data users, modify data, or extend license), please e-mail:
  2. Once received, NCSES will respond with the appropriate documentation.

Who to Contact for More Information

Darius Singpurwalla
Licensing Coordinator/Reviewer
Data Access, Confidentiality and Quality Assessment Program
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics