Liberating the data!

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1994 – Liberating the data!

In 1994, Wendy Watkins of Carleton University and Ernie Boyko of Statistics Canada approach the Social Science Federation of Canada about an idea to liberate key public microdata files from Statistics Canada in order to make these readily available to universities for research and teaching. Since the late 1980s the cost recovery policy of Statistics Canada has made access to this data very difficult and expensive. There are also stringent rules preventing the sharing of data. It is actually easier to get the data from the US Census Bureau than it is to obtain it from Statistics Canada.

Lack of access to this data represents a major hindrance to both research and teaching in Canada. To address this, the Social Science Federation of Canada decides to launch the national Data Liberation Initiative (DLI), and through this build up a consortium of universities and federal government departments to cover the costs and make the data accessible to universities across the country. The national campaign takes over three years to come to fruition and the DLI becomes a major turning point in terms of data access in Canada. It is also the precursor to the later development of University Data Centres that provide longitudinal data on campuses across the country.