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Regulated Research Environment

The CCSS Regulated Research Environment provides customized secure computing environments for working with restricted research data.  

  • Image of Cassian D'Cunha, Lynn Martin, Peter Enns, Elena Goloborodko and two staff from McMaster University standing with trees in the background

Getting Started

Are you planning a research project that: 

  • Involves proprietary, confidential, sensitive, or otherwise restricted data?  
  • Uses data you are unsure is restricted in some way? 
  • Requires work on a data application with an external data provider; but have questions? 


How can the CCSS team help you with your project?   

  • Navigating the restricted data application process 
  • Providing the required CCSS secure environment description for your research data management plan  
  • or supply a CCSS Data Security Plan for your application process 
  • Providing you with an overview of the CCSS regulated research environment suggested by our team for your project 
  • Answering any other questions related to our processes and services 

Navigating the Process: Step-by-Step

The step-by-step process to obtain approval for access and get ready to work with restricted/sensitive data is outlined below.   

We will help you to navigate wherever this process starts, whether with OSP (Office of Sponsored Programs), the data provider, or elsewhere. 

If the data you want to work with might be restricted or sensitive, you will want to verify this before proceeding. 

Considerations for understanding and evaluating the nature of your research data: 

  • Does the data contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII), such as names and addresses? 
  • Is the data proprietary? 
  • Does your research require a Data Use Agreement? 
  • Is this human subject research? 

Unsure how to navigate this step? Our team can help you directly and if needed, identify other Cornell resources. Schedule a consultation or for quick questions, contact us at

If it is determined that your project requires securing the research data on the CCSS Regulated Research Environment, you will need a Data Use Agreement. The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) will work with you and the data provider to develop and sign the Data Use Agreement for sponsored projects.

A CCSS Data Use Agreement is required for regulated researcher-collected and university-owned data. 

You can start either process by providing our team with the basic information about your project by filling out a New CCSS Project Request form.

An IRB approval is required for research involving human participants (which could include surveys, interviews, secondary analysis) in a way that meets the federal regulation’s definition of “human participant research.” The IRB website, Research with Human Participants | Cornell Research Services, is a detailed resource regarding all the requirements around the IRB review and application processes. If you have questions, contact IRB staff at 

Either an Exemption Determination or copy of an approved IRB Protocol is required for the data use agreement process with OSP and for CCSS contract management. 

For sponsored projects, OSP will contact CCSS for the data security plan. The CCSS team will help you review the data security requirements and create the data protection plan for your application process.  

Note: For Cornell internal and researcher-created projects, the data security plan will be sent directly to the research team.  

With your finalized data use agreement in hand, our team will work with the data provider to deliver the data to the CCSS Regulated Research Environment. We will enable your access to the data, which includes access to your project space in a secure environment. User login credentials and instructions for access to the system will be provided. Staff will support you along the way until you are successfully connected to your project.  

You now have access to your restricted data and various statistical analysis software resources on CCSS’s restricted computing environment. As you start and continue your work, we are here to help.

Available Datasets

What types of datasets are currently or have been hosted for researchers by CCSS?


Examples of research areas:

  • Households, Families and Housing 
  • Human Development 
  • Health Services 
  • Employment, Income and Poverty 

Examples of data providers: 

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 
  • Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 
  • New York State Department of Health 
  • Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) 
  • Institute for Employment Research (IAB)-Germany  
  • Many other government agencies, research organizations, and private companies 

Additional Resources Through CCSS

The CCSS Regulated Research Environment Also Supports:

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