1. Requesting outputs

If you want to remove any work from the Secure Research Service (SRS), you will need to submit the file(s) for clearance to the Statistical Support Team. You should apply statistical disclosure control to your file(s) to ensure that they are not disclosive and do not identify any individual entity. Your request will be checked by the Statistical Support team to ensure that the output is non-disclosive.

There are three types of clearance you can request:

  • pre-publication clearance
  • publication clearance
  • code file clearance

Important notice

There is currently a high level of demand for the SRS. Projects that are directly informing the government response to coronavirus (COVID-19) are being prioritised.

This means that it is currently taking Statistical Support longer than normal to clear other output requests. We will process all requests as quickly as possible, however, this could take up to five working days.

This does not include time taken for you to respond to any requests for clarification from the Statistical Support team. Please plan your work around these timescales and support us by making sure that the outputs are clear and non-disclosive. We appreciate your understanding at this busy and challenging time. You will be notified when we are able to revisit these timescales.

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2. Pre-publication clearance

You can request pre-publication clearance when you want to remove files from the Secure Research Service (SRS) for writing up results, or for further discussion with members of the project team. These clearances can only be shared with the project team and those that have commissioned or sponsored the research as long as they are names on the project. Under no circumstances should they be published.

On completion of the project, pre-publication clearances must be destroyed. Failure to comply may result in your accredited researcher status being revoked.

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3. Publication clearance

A publication clearance is the final intended output of your research that you want to publish or share beyond those who are named on your project (for example, accredited researchers, project sponsors or funders who are names on the project). This can be in the form of a report, website article, presentation or speech for example, and must include everything that will be disseminated, including graphics and words around the data accessed in the Secure Research Service (SRS). These clearances should be provided with any underlying data used to create tables and graphics.

Publication clearances must be submitted in the form and file type in which you wish to publish. For example, if you are using PowerPoint for a presentation, your clearances must be submitted in PowerPoint format. Publication clearances can be kept indefinitely and distributed freely after they are approved by the Statistical Support team. If you make subsequent changes to your publication that relates to the SRS data (for example, adding a new table that was produced using data from the SRS), you must submit it for clearance again.

Both pre-publication and publication clearances must show all underlying, unweighted counts that are used to create your statistical outputs. These counts should adhere generally to a threshold of 10 (in some instances this may be lower or higher depending on the requirement of the data owner). Outputs with counts below the threshold may be considered in exceptional cases, where you can demonstrate the necessity to your research as new knowledge that has a public benefit and, most importantly, that the output is safe and non-disclosive.

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4. Code file clearance

You may also request code files for clearance, which can be shared freely once approved for publication. These code files must not contain:

  • data
  • identifiers
  • commands that attempt to identify or search for individual entities

To assist the Statistical Support team with the clearance, the code should be annotated and/or have accompanying commentary to describe the actions and intended outcome of the code.

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5. Receiving support

If you need support or have any questions, the Secure Research Service (SRS) Customer Support team are available Monday to Friday from 8am until 5pm. They will forward any relevant requests to the Statistical Support team.

They can be contacted by telephone on +44 1329 447871 or by email at srs.customer.support@ons.gov.uk.

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