The Texas Research Data Center operates in close collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau to enable research that expands basic scientific knowledge and provides benefits to the federal statistical system. The TXRDC is part of the national RDC network and is one of many research facilities located at leading research institutions around the United States. The TXRDC serves Texas and the nation by hosting a secure computing lab where qualified researchers with approved projects can conduct research using restricted-access versions of important datasets maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau and other federal agencies.
The TXRDC is located at Texas A&M University, the lead university in the TXRDC Consortium which includes the Texas A&M University System, Baylor University, Rice University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The TXRDC and the TXRDC Consortium came into being when National Science Foundation funding for the TXRDC-Census collaboration took effect in August 2011. The following year involved planning and executing building renovations to prepare the physical space for housing the secure computing lab and then working with Census IT teams to implement the secure network node and linked workstations. The secure computing lab was completed at the end of the summer and went officially “operational” in September 2012. A week later the first researcher logged on and performed analyses using restricted access data sets hosted on the servers of the Center for Economic Studies (CES) at Census Headquarters in Washington DC.
Grand Opening Ceremonies were held in October 2012. Texas A&M University president, R. Bowen Loftin and other TAMU dignitaries welcomed a group of high-level officials from the U.S. Census Bureau led by Acting Director Thomas L. Mesenbourg, Jr. who traveled from Census Headquarters to participate in the ceremony and associated events.
The Texas Research Data Center has a specialized mission; we host a secure computing lab where qualified researchers with approved projects can perform statistical analyses using restricted access data sets housed on the national RDC network maintained by the Center for Economic Studies (CES) at the U.S. Bureau of Census.
Please be aware that we do not house or distribute publicly available census data or provide assistance with obtaining or analyzing Census data.
If you are seeking information relating to publicly available census data for Texas or the nation, we unfortunately cannot help you. We suggest you consider contacting the Texas State Data Center, the U.S. Census Bureau, or the Texas A&M University Library for possible assistance with information relating to topics of this sort.
See our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for comments on type of projects that fit with our mission and types of projects that do not fit with our mission.
What the TXRDC Offers to Researchers
The TXRDC provides a valuable resource for research; one that is available at only a few locations around the country. Specifically, it gives researchers in the State of Texas and beyond the ability to work with restricted-access versions of important datasets in the federal statistical system.
The restricted access versions of data sets can be superior to public versions of the same data for the purposes of addressing certain research questions. For example, restricted access data sets may: have larger samples, finer levels of geography, and more detailed codes for key variables. Additionally, restricted access data sets may provide access to micro data (instead of aggregated data). Finally, there may be options for linking data sets in ways that are not possible when working with public versions.
Qualified researchers who gain project approval can use the secure lab at the TXRDC to conduct research that advances basic science and improves the effectiveness of the federal statistical system. A partial list of available datasets includes restricted access versions of:
- US Decennial censuses and important demographic surveys such as the American Community Survey (ACS), the Current Population Survey (CPS), the American Housing Survey (AHS), the National Survey of Family Growth; the National Longitudinal Mortality Study, the National Crime Victimization Survey; and more …
- Economic censuses and surveys such as the censuses of manufacturing, businesses, wholesale trade, commodity flow data, foreign trade data, and also specially constructed datasets such as the Longitudinal Business Database (LBD), the Integrated Longitudinal Business Data Base (ILBD), and the Longitudinal Employer-Household Database; and more …
- Major health datasets from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) including the National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS), the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), the National Longitudinal Mortality Study, detailed vital statistics files, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), and more …
- See Datasets Available in Research Data Centers for further notes and links to the topic. Also contact our staff to inquire about specific datasets and related issues.
The Nature of RDC Research
Research in RDCs is conducted under rigorous protocols for maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of data in the federal statistical system. Researchers should take these protocols into account when considering or planning RDC research projects. Several points warrant brief mention here:
- All RDC projects require review and approval by one or more federal agencies. Many projects require review only by either the Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies (CES) or by the National Center for Health Statistics(NCHS).But many projects require review by other federal agencies (depending on the data used).
- Restricted access data can only be analyzed in the secure computing lab on site at the TXDC(or, alternatively, at other RDCs in the national RDC network).There are no other alternatives.
- Researchers who use the secure lab at the TXRDC must undergo a security review to gain clearance to use the facility.
- Intermediate results of analyses cannot leave the secure lab. Final results (e.g., for publication in papers and reports) are subject to restrictions on form and scope and must cleared by a formal review before they can leave the lab.
The TXRDC Consortium
The TXRDC is supported by a multi-university consortium involving Texas A&M University, the Texas A&M University System, Baylor University, Rice University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University is the administrative home for the TXRDC.
Researchers at TXRDC Consortium institutions have access to the services and facilities at the TXRDC. For example, they can conduct funded research projects at reduced lab fees and in many cases lab fees and other project fees can be waived entirely.
Researchers who are not affiliated with TXRDC consortium institutions also are welcome to conduct research projects in the secure lab. These projects are subject to standard lab fees. Contact the TXRDC Director, Mary Campbell at email@example.com for details about lab fees for projects.
The consortium welcomes other institutions to join and also welcomes researchers at non-consortium institutions to inquire about opportunities for access. Further information about the consortium and access can be found at:
Interested in Conducting RDC-Based Research?
We invite researchers to contact us to ask about the possibilities for conducting research using data hosted on the Census RDC network.
Note that information about the availability and contents of restricted access data sets in the federal statistical system often is not easy to locate. Our RDC Administrator has the expertise and contacts needed to help determine if data you may be interested in are available or not. Our RDC Administrator and our Director can provide feedback regarding whether your ideas for potential research projects are feasible and appropriate for RDC-projects. (Our FAQ page provides some information about projects that are not appropriate.)
Contact us for further information about the nature of RDC research and the project approval process.