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Federal Research Data Centers

The Boston/Cambridge Federal Statistical Research Data Center

A New Resource for the UMass Faculty

The UMass System now has a signed agreement with the Boston/Cambridge FSRDC.

To explore opportunities, researchers are directed to the FSRDC's system-wide, central website

In addition, the Boston Center is a partnership between the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), based in Cambridge.  

Guidance

Dr. Wayne Gray is Executive Director of the Boston Research Data Center (BRDC) and Professor of Economics at Clark University.

Dr. Gray shares his insights:

  • The main website has links describing the many datasets in the RDCs that are available from several different federal statistical agencies.  
  • The process of submitting a research project differs from agency to agency, so there isn't just one document that would describe all of them.  
  • The RDCs were originally set up to house Census datasets, then health datasets (from NCHS and AHRQ) were added; more recently, datasets from the Bureau of Labor Statistics were included.  
  • Other federal statistical agencies are also involved with the FSRDC process so expect additional data available in the future.

For the work he does, Dr. Gray notes:

  • For the sort of projects that I do, which use Census Bureau business data, preparing a proposal takes months, and getting it approved takes several additional months.  
  • Projects using health data tend to be smaller-scale and take less time.  
  • In either case, anyone interested in using the data should definitely reach out for more information before investing the considerable effort involved in preparing a proposal for a research project.  
  • Those working with these data typically develop a long-run research agenda using them, rather than a one-off project to produce a single paper.
  • Many faculty researchers have heard about RDC-based data from seeing papers written by other researchers or by doing their graduate studies at a school that had an RDC, so in most schools the process of finding out about the data tends to be more "bottom-up" (from the researchers) than "top-down" (from the academic administration).