Applying for N3C Data Access
The NCATS National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C) Data Enclave represents one of the largest, most secure clinical data resources for accelerating research on COVID-19. It also includes a powerful analytics platform and tool set for online discovery, visualization and collaboration. The data set and analytics capabilities will grow over time.
The steps to access the N3C data include registering with the N3C, completing required training and submitting a Data Use Request within the N3C Data Enclave.
For further assistance, contact the N3C Support Desk.
Step 1: Determine if an Institutional Data Use Agreement has been executed.
Before researchers can request access to the data, their home institutions must have an Institutional Data Use Agreement (DUA) in place with NCATS. If researchers attempt to register with the N3C before their institution executes a DUA, they will be notified that their requests will not be reviewed until their institution has a DUA in place.
Note: DUAs can only be signed by Authorized Institutional Officials who have the authority to bind all users at their institution to the terms of the DUA. With the exception of citizen scientists not associated with institutions, individual researchers cannot sign their own DUAs with NCATS.
Step 2: Register with N3C.
Once a DUA is in place, researchers need to register with N3C. Citizen scientists must register using the same email address that they used for their DUA. During registration, researchers can request an N3C Data Enclave account. Upon approval, researchers will receive an email with directions for signing into their N3C Data Enclave account.
Step 3: Log into the N3C Data Enclave.
Following the directions provided in the account creation email, researchers need to log into the N3C Data Enclave to access their account and resources for learning about using the N3C Data Enclave. Having an N3C Data Enclave account does not on its own enable access to the N3C data, however.
Step 4: Complete required training.
The N3C Data Enclave is hosted by NCATS, and all researchers must complete the “Information Security, Counterintelligence, Privacy Awareness, Records Management Refresher, Emergency Preparedness Refresher” course, which can be accessed at NIH’s information security training website, before submitting a Data Use Request. It will take approximately 60-90 minutes to complete the entire course. Users should save evidence of completion for their records (a screenshot or copy of the certificate of completion). Researchers who will request access to de-identified data or to the Limited Data Set also must have completed their home institution’s human subjects research training requirements. Researchers will be required to provide the date they completed training in their Data Use Request.
Step 5: Submit the Data Use Request.
After satisfying the training requirements, researchers must fill out and submit a Data Use Request through the N3C Data Enclave. Researchers will need to provide a project title, a public research statement, a description of their research project plan, the level of data they intend to access and other information. Researchers also must read and attest to the DUA and to the N3C Data User Code of Conduct. If requesting access to the Limited Data Set, researchers will need to provide a copy of their institution’s Human Research Protection Program IRB determination letter.
After a researcher submits a Data Use Request, it will be reviewed by the N3C Data Access Committee (DAC). The DAC is composed of federal staff from NIH and is responsible for reviewing and approving all Data Use Requests. Researchers will receive a DAC determination by email and, if approved, instructions for accessing the data. Data Use Requests will be effective for one year from the date access is granted and will be renewable.
Learn more about the DAC and the Data Use Request review and approval timeline in the Use the Data FAQs.
For more detail about applying for access, visit these resources from the NCATS-supported National Center for Data to Health:
If you still have questions or need assistance, please contact the N3C Support Desk.