Restricted Data Access

ANES User Community: We are receiving a record number of Restriction Data Applications, applications whose processing is complicated by the COVID-19 situation and also our work on the 2020 data collection. With this in mind, we want you to be aware that application review is currently taking a month or more longer than is usual. We will keep you updated as to progress.

ANES items identified as Restricted Data are not publicly released and are available only under specific contractual conditions.
Access to Restricted Data can be requested only through the application process outlined on this webpage and only for the purpose of scientific and public policy research. The ANES greatly values the trust our respondents place in us to protect their confidentiality and for this reason we impose strict legal and electronic requirements. We have tried to minimize the danger of breaches of respondent anonymity in both unrestricted and restricted datasets by aggregating critical variables such as geographic location and occupation/industry up to less specific levels than those provided by the respondent. We have also devised the contractual procedure described below to ensure that restricted datasets are released only to people who meet stringent conditions designed to protect the anonymity of respondents.

Violations of respondent anonymity, or of ANES agreements, or of the procedures designed to ensure that such violations do not occur, would be very costly. They would violate the privacy of respondents and the trust they have placed in ANES to protect their anonymity. Such violations would also inflict an enormous loss on the entire research community, since they undermine the willingness of individuals to participate in surveys and of government agencies to provide data about respondents that can be merged with the survey data. Because the potential damage is so great, the procedures outlined below are particularly strict.

The following materials have been developed by the ANES Data Confidentiality Committee in consultation with security specialists at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research in an effort to permit dissemination of ANES restricted data to the maximum number of responsible researchers while satisfying its own concerns about respondent anonymity. We thank the Health and Retirement Study and ICPSR for generously sharing their Restricted Data Access documentation and procedures.

Please email all questions related to ANES Restricted Data to:

How to apply for restricted data access


Step 1: Determine if you are eligible

Do you qualify as an Investigator or will you work under an Investigator?

The researcher who will be responsible for the Restricted Data is the Investigator. The Investigator must hold a permanent position at the Receiving Agency (the organization employing the Investigator). The Receiving Agency must have an Institutional Review Board/Human Subjects Review Committee (that is registered with the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or be in a position to hire a private IRB/HSRC firm. Only people who meet the definition of Investigator are eligible to apply for access to Restricted Data. Others (such as students) who would like to use Restricted Data must work under and apply through an eligible Investigator.


Step 2: Determine whether the data are available

Are you looking for pre-prepared files?

The most commonly requested ANES restricted data are available, free of charge, in files which have been pre-prepared for approved RDA requests. ANES restricted data currently available in pre-prepared files are:


Other restricted data which would require archive retrieval and file preparation by ANES staff may also be made available through the RDA process, including some open-end texts. Fulfillment of any such requests are subject to limitations.

When ANES restricted data are available but RDA files are not already pre-prepared, archive retrieval and processing time by ANES staff may sometimes result in delay to fulfillment of the RDA request. In addition, although ANES policy is to fill approved RDA requests without charge whenever possible, it may in some instances be necessary to charge for exceptional requirements of staff processing time. Please contact ANES to determine if restricted data sought are present in the ANES archives. Note: certain restricted data can never be made available, such as respondent name.


Step 3: Assemble the application materials

Do you have everything necessary to submit your request to ANES?

  • a completed application form 
  • a current appointment letter or similar document that proves the Investigator holds a permanent position at the Receiving Agency
  • a current copy of the Investigator’s curriculum vitae or resume

Please email the application materials to give ANES staff 2-3 days to acknowledge receipt)
ANES personnel will review your application material and submit it to the ANES Board for review. The Board may seek clarification regarding information you provide, so please be prepared to answer questions from the Board during this review period. ANES staff will notify the Investigator of the Board’s decision.


Step 4: Secure IRB approval

Does your IRB approval meet ANES requirements?

After you are notified that your Restricted Data Access request has been approved by the ANES Board, the Investigator must submit an application to the Institutional Review Board/Human Subjects Review Committee (IRB) at the Receiving Agency. If the Investigator is conducting independent research or the Receiving Agency does not have an Institutional Review Board, you must go through a private IRB firm to get your protocols reviewed and approved. Expedited review is acceptable. No exemptions, such as for “secondary data analysis”, may be used in this aspect of the human subjects review. Please be advised that ANES will not recognize such exemptions as meeting the requirements of the application process.

The Investigator will be asked to provide the following to ANES:

  • a copy of the materials submitted to the IRB for approval
  • notice of the IRB approval for the Investigator to conduct the research using ANES Restricted data

The ANES Memorandum of Human Subjects Review  should be used with your IRB/HSRC application. Because the IRB/HSRC review must include the Research Plan and Restricted Data Protection Plan that have been approved by ANES, you should receive ANES Board approval for your Restricted Data Access request before you submit your proposal for IRB/HSRC review.

IMPORTANT: For multi-institution collaborations, each Receiving Agency MUST provide proof of IRB approval from its own institution.


Step 5: Complete the Restricted Data Access Agreement(s)


Do all Agreements have all necessary signatures?

Upon receiving and approving the IRB material, ANES will draft and provide to the Investigator a formal Agreement for the Restricted Data Access request (sample Agreement ), together with a Supplemental Agreement (sample Supplementary Agreement ) for each Research Staff member listed in the Investigator’s approved Restricted Data Access application. Once all Agreements for the Restricted Data Access request are signed and returned to ANES at the address below, ANES will submit them for counter-signatures.

Mailing address:
American National Election Studies
Center for Political Studies
P.O. Box 1248
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248

A copy of the fully-executed agreement will be emailed to you for your records.


Step 6: Receive your ANES Restricted Data

Have you received the data?

You will be notified when your data are ready for secure download. Instructions will be emailed to you.

Step 7: Conclude or renew your Agreement(s) for the Restricted Data

a) Are you ready to terminate your Restricted Data Agreement(s) when the contractual time period expires?

If you do not renew the Agreement(s) for the ANES restricted data per 7b) [below], all copies of the original restricted data and all copies of all files derived in whole or in part from the restricted data must be destroyed when the date specified in your contractual Agreement(s) has passed.

Recommended by ANES: Secure erasure of storage media followed by reformatting OR secure deletion of individual folders and/or files.

There are multiple approaches to make the files inaccessible, and your Information Technology department can make a recommendation or help implement the ANES recommendation. The Investigator must complete and submit a Dataset Destruction Certification  form once the restricted data have been destroyed.

Here are a couple of file destruction links:

b) Do you need to renew your Agreement(s) for the restricted data?

If you would like to retain access to the ANES restricted data, you will need to provide the following information to ANES:

  1. Details of changes or modifications in the research plan;
  2. A progress report including justification why an extension is needed;
  3. Citations for any papers, publications, or presentations using the restricted data;
  4. Proof of current IRB approval (which must be renewed if needed through the course of the project).

If you have questions about the recertification process or have technical concerns related to your data protection plan, please send to:

When your renewal period has ended, please follow the instructions in 7a) regarding termination of the Restricted Data Agreement(s).