How to Apply
For an application to be considered, the proposed research project must meet the following criteria:
- Be exclusively statistical in nature.
- Have technical merit.
- Be of significant interest to the BLS.
- Further the mission of the BLS
Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the BLS to determine the availability of data and the feasibility of their project prior to submitting their applications.
Please visit our "Who is Eligible?" page to confirm that you are eligible to apply for restricted data access.
Applications are accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis. It may take up to three months after the application is submitted to BLS to receive approval for research proposals. Applications that involve data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program and the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) may take up to six months as approval from state or federal agencies is required.
Once a proposal is approved, a legally-binding data-sharing agreement will be processed between BLS and the researcher’s institution in order to grant the researcher access to confidential BLS data. It can take an additional three months to process and fully execute the legal agreement authorizing data access between BLS and the recipient institution. Researchers should factor these estimates into their timetable for beginning research as well as any possible wait lists (see the What Datasets are Available? page for further information on waitlists).
All applications must be submitted online using the Standard Application Process (SAP) for federal statistical agencies that can be found at www.ResearchDataGov.org. Please do not email applications to BLS.
The information listed below will be needed to complete the online application. This list is for information purposes only. All application materials must be submitted online using the Standard Application Process (SAP) for statistical agencies at www.ResearchDataGov.org.
- Research Proposal. The research proposal should be between 5 and 10 pages in length and include the following information:
CV/Resume. An up-to-date CV should be included for each applicant.
- The hypothesis that will be tested.
- The data set and variables that will be used in the analysis.
- The empirical methods that will be used.
- An abstract summarizing the hypothesis to be tested, the data set involved, relevant variables, the empirical methods to be used, and the data outputs that will result from the project. (The abstract should be no longer than 300 words.)
- The specific data outputs that will result from the project, including a description of whether the research results will be presented as descriptive statistics or frequencies, or via multivariate analysis such as regression coefficients.
- A literature review including brief discussion of how the proposed research contributes to the existing body of research.
- An explanation of why the research requires use of non-public data.
- An explanation of why the research is of interest to BLS and how it furthers the agency’s mission.
If I am eligible and plan to apply, what should I keep in mind?
- If approved, you will be granted up to two years to conduct work with restricted data files onsite at BLS, a Federal Statistical Research Data Center (FSRDC), or through a virtual data platform depending on the BLS restricted data involved. We ask that researchers try to complete their projects within the time allotted by their agreements, but we do approve extension requests on a case-by-case basis. Each project is limited to a maximum of four years total.
- Once an application is approved, you and your institution must enter into a written legal agreement with the BLS. Within the agreement, the signing official will vouch for your trustworthiness. The terms and conditions of agreements with BLS are non-negotiable. Samples of legal agreements for onsite and FSRDC projects can be found on the Forms and Documents page. Please contact the Restricted Data Access Administrator with any questions about the sample agreement.
- If you are accessing an FSRDC to perform statistical research, you will be subject to BLS fees that are in addition to any fees charged by the host FRSDC for use of the facility. See Fees and Invoicing page for more information.
- BLS strives to make available to the public the maximum amount of information possible without compromising the confidentiality pledged to survey respondents. In accordance with Federal laws, BLS must perform disclosure reviews of any research outputs before those outputs can be removed from the BLS or FSRDC. See Data Output Review and Publication page for more information.
- BLS accepts only as many research projects for onsite access as resources (space, facilities, staff time, etc.) can accommodate. Depending on the demand for restricted data access and/or resource availability, BLS may institute a queue (activation of new projects occurs as current projects are completed) or a waiting list (activation of new projects on hold until further notice) for approved access to certain datasets. See Waiting Lists page for more information.