Guidelines for the Release of Public-Use Data

Publication Date: May 6, 2004


This document is one of two products created under the auspices of the Evaluation Data Coordination Project (EDCP)—options documents providing measures for a number of constructs and informational papers describing guidelines for data reporting and the release of public -use data. The EDCP’s overarching goal is to develop common measures of constructs and reporting formats for selected evaluation projects to facilitate and improve the quality of potential future secondary analyses and cross-project syntheses. This document provides guidelines for releasing public-use data to facilitate metaanalysis, secondary analysis, and cross-product synthesis; for protecting the confidentiality of study participants when releasing data sets; and for addressing issues relevant to creating data sets from administrative data and pragmatic issues, such as documentation. The evaluators of the nine U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Administration for Children and Families (DHHS/ACF) studies are the primary audience; however, the information is applicable to a wide range of research and, therefore, to a broader audience. (For more information about the EDCP and the nine ACF studies, refer to the Options Document.)

This document is divided into six parts: legal references, guidelines for the release of public use data, additional suggestions for preparing documents for public use, recommendations for creating data sets from administrative data, recommendations for creating linked data sets, and additional references on data confidentiality.

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