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Requesting and Using Fast Track Data

Access to Fast Track Data

The Fast Track Project is committed to a policy of allowing the research community access to data, under conditions that strictly protect the rights and privacy of Fast Track participants. The research design that has guided Fast Track data collection over the entire study period requires a restricted-use mechanism for sharing the data with the research community. As noted, the restricted-use data policy currently applies to data from years 1 through 15, 19, and 26 of the study.

The rationale for restrictions on data use is based on the level of sensitivity of the data, where “sensitive data” are defined as any data from a research project that may compromise the anonymity or privacy of respondents. During the course of the study, the project staff has followed strict guidelines to maintain the confidentiality of the data as it is processed, and will take all appropriate steps to remove direct and indirect identifying information from shared data files. However, the sensitive nature of the data requires that we systematically safeguard the privacy and anonymity of respondents by establishing a contractual agreement with investigators and institutions requesting the data. The specific contractual conditions are set forth in the Data Use Agreement for Fast Track Project.

To further safeguard the privacy and anonymity of respondents, all plans for use of Fast Track data must address the risk of deductive disclosure — the discerning of a respondent’s identity through knowledge of a combination of characteristics of that individual. Data requests will be reviewed carefully for potential disclosure issues through indirect identifiers. For some combinations of data, it will be necessary to apply statistical disclosure limitation techniques prior to data release. For example, a cross-tabulation of respondent’s race with study site yields a cell with only two cases, with 99 percent of cases in a single cell. Thus, for one of the study sites, individual-level race categories will not be released. Across all study sites, the small numbers of Asian and Native American respondents (three or fewer per cohort) require that we collapse these categories of the race variable. Site-specific cross-tabulations of gender by some disability categories yield cells with 0, 1, or 2 cases; thus, information at this level of detail will not be released. These and other potential disclosure limitations will be discussed with the researcher and incorporated to the research plan.

Fast Track data are released only for research use.

Data Availability

The Instrument Administration History and Data Instruments sections of this website provide a comprehensive listing of the measures available from the Fast Track project and documentation for those measures. Data collected by the Fast Track project will be released for use by the scientific community, for research purposes only, through the restricted-use mechanism described below. The data are being released gradually, by year of the study. Currently, data for all three respondent cohorts are available for study years 1 through 15, 19, and 26. The Data Collection History section describes each study year including the age of participants, school grade, school calendar year for each cohort, and the approximate data collection period for each cohort.

Costs Associated with Data Access

To cover the expenses of processing requests, producing and shipping data files and documentation, and administering data use agreements, the Fast Track Data Center requests payment of a non-refundable fee in the amount of $1,105 per day. Further consultation with Data Center staff is available at this daily rate.

Application Requirements:

1. Requirement of Investigators and Receiving Institutions

Investigators must meet the following criteria:

      • have a PhD or other terminal degree, and
      • hold a faculty appointment or other research position at the receiving institution.

Graduate students who wish to use Fast Track data for dissertation research must apply through their faculty advisors.

Receiving institutions must meet the following criteria:

      • be an institution of higher education, a research organization (non-profit), or a government agency,
      • have a demonstrated record of using sensitive data according to commonly-accepted standards of research ethics, and
      • have established protocols for an Institutional Review Board/Human Subjects Review Committee or equivalent body to review research proposals using sensitive data.

2. Research Proposal

Applicants for Fast Track restricted data must provide a written description of the research project, including:

      • an abstract,
      • research questions,
      • primary methodology,
      • specific measures and study years being requested,
      • the types of data from other sources that will be merged with this restricted data file,
      • plans for use of the results of the research, including plans for publication, and
      • time frame for analysis of the data and data destruction.

3. Sensitive Data Security Plan

Investigators must submit a Sensitive Data Security Plan to the Fast Track Data Center, outlining the measures that will be taken to ensure that no persons, other than those authorized by the signed agreement, can have access to the contents of the Fast Track data sets. This data protection plan applies to the data files supplied by the Fast Track Data Center, as well as any copies made by the research team, and any new data derived from the restricted data. “Derived data” include subsets of cases or variables, as well as numerical or other transformations of variables from the original data. The plan also should include a discussion of the computing environment in which the data will be managed, analyzed, stored, and transmitted among research team members. The investigators must address in detail the security measures that will be implemented for protection of these restricted data.

Guidelines for Sensitive Data Security Plan for the Use of Fast Track Project Data

4. Signed Data Use Agreement

Fast Track Data Use Agreement

5. Review Board Approval from Receiving Institution

Fast Track requires that the investigator submit a copy of the document, signed by the receiving institution’s Institutional Review Board, approving the research project and acknowledging the risks of deductive disclosure that require special procedures for handling Fast Track data. The IRB also must approve the procedures for the secure use and storage of the data as agreed in the Sensitive Data Security Plan. Human Subjects review for Fast Track data must be in accordance with procedures used for live human subjects; the investigator may not request exemption from review. Fast Track will release data only for projects that have received approval through expedited or full board review of both the research proposal and the Sensitive Data Security Plan.

6. Completed Additional Research Staff Agreement, if applicable

Additional Research Staff Agreement for the Use of Fast Track Project Data

7. Signed Security Pledge for Investigator and each member of the Research Staff

Security Pledge for the Use of Fast Track Project Data

8. Completed Application Form

Application Form for Obtaining Fast Track Project Data

9. Investigator’s CV

Additional Information:

For further information on requesting Fast Track data, please contact the Fast Track Data Center: