You are here

Research Policies and Procedures

RDC Operations

All research is conducted in secure laboratories located at Duke University that are operated in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau's Center for Economic Studies (CES).

The RDC is supported by member institutions with initial support from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Non-members may access the RDC laboratories for a fee.

Facility Information

The RDC laboratories provide each project with workspaces, a place to secure research materials, and thin-client workstations to remotely access Linux servers located at the Census Bureau.

Available software includes (but is not limited to):

  • SAS
  • Stata
  • R
  • Gauss
  • MatLab
  • Linux open office and other utilities

Please consult with the RDC Administrator if other software is necessary for your project.

Hours of operation:

  • During normal business hours, the RDC Administrators employed by the RDC provide computing and research support.
  • Researchers with active projects may access the laboratories 24/7.

RDC projects take place at:

Social Science Research Institute  SSRI Gross Hall Building
Gross Hall, 2nd Floor
140 Science Drive
Durham, NC 27708



RTI  RTI Building
Building 7
Research Triangle Park
3040 East Cornwallis Road
PO Box 12194
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709


  • Non-Duke RDC researchers should contact the RDC Administrators for information on after hours access to Gross Hall. All researchers using the RTI location should contact the RDC administrator for additional access requirements.

Funding and Fees:

  • If the researcher is associated with a Consortium member institution the lab fees are covered by the institution's membership contribution.
  • If the researcher is not associated with one of the Consortium member institutions, the researcher may access the RDC by paying a fee; current fees are $10,000 per year for one fifth-time access to a terminal (based on one day per work week).
  • Additional fees may be charged to projects that use data sets outside the core or that require special resources from CES, the Census Bureau, or the TRDC.

Contact the RDC Administrator or Executive Director for more detailed information about costs, funding, and availability.

Steps for Approved Projects (i.e. after proposal has been accepted by the relevant agency)

  • Obtain Special Sworn Status.
  • Complete researcher agreements that describe terms and conditions under which the research must be conducted.
  • Provide any needed external data files to the RDC Administrator and CES computing staff.
  • Meet any Human Subjects review board criteria (IRB) as required by their home institution or granting body. Note this is not a TRDC requirement.

Disclosure and Confidentiality

All research conducted at the RDC falls under Title 13 and Title 26 regulations. Federal law prohibits disclosure of information contained in data prepared by the Bureau of the Census or other participating federal agencies. As a result, research at the RDC takes place under conditions that are more restrictive than a typical research environment.

  • Output-printed or otherwise-may not be removed from the RDC until it has been cleared for release by the RDC Administrator and Bureau or the corresponding agency. Any released output is released by email from the Bureau or corresponding agency.
  • For certain Census projects, output may be subject to additional review by the Census Bureau's Disclosure Review Board.
  • Each researcher on the project who wishes to see undisclosed output at the RDC must obtain Special Sworn Status (SSS).
  • No analysis can be performed outside of the RDC laboratories.
  • Outside computing equipment or devices that provide access to email or text messaging, cannot be brought into the lab by researchers. The prohibited devices include laptops, cell phone with text messaging or email capabilities and portable digital media devices such as flash drives.
  • Data may only be used for the approved project.

Significant limitations on what output may be released exist in order to maintain confidentiality standards:

  • projects must emphasize output from statistical models
  • intermediate output, including detailed tables of descriptive statistics and regression models based on small sample sizes typically cannot be removed from the RDC
  • intermediate output, defined as output that is intended for sharing with co-authors or graduate advisors but is not intended for publication or presentation at seminars and conferences, will generally not be released
  • Large detailed tables of descriptive statistics or statistics computed from very small samples present a disclosure risk and generally will not be released.

Researchers should keep in mind that:

  • the clearance process for releasing statistics from the RDC may take several weeks
  • coordination with the RDC Administrator on timelines for disclosure analysis in advance of presentations or circulation of papers is strongly recommended
  • co-researchers and graduate advisers who want to view preliminary or intermediate output should obtain SSS and visit the RDC rather than requesting this output for release.

A complete description of the research environment at the RDCs and more details on disclosure avoidance and confidentiality are available by request.

Project Completion

Access to all files ends at midnight on the last day of the project.

  • All data and programs remain in the possession of the Census Bureau.
  • Researchers should provide documentation of all programs developed to conduct the research.

Extensions may be requested in some unusual circumstances.

Reactivation of projects is permitted for one month to complete a reasonable set of revisions for publication, as long as a researcher's SSS is current.

Researchers are required to submit annual progress reports for Census projects including:

  1. a statement describing how the proposed benefits to the Census Bureau were realized
  2. a CES working paper and copies of any papers or publications based on the research
  3. a technical memo detailing the findings that pertain to the Census Bureau benefits

A summary project report within 6 months of the end of a project is also required.

An acknowledgement must be included on all researchers' publications resulting from use of data at the RDC; contact the RDC Administrators for the specific language.