Discovering and accessing health sciences data at McGill

Discovering, accessing, and manipulating data are often necessary tasks in health sciences research and beyond, and they can be particularly tricky. There are a few resources that I would encourage you to check out for these purposes:

  • There is a Data Lab in the McGill Library! Located on the second floor of the McLennan Library Building, the Lab has workstations equipped with ArcGIS, MATLAB, NVivo (limited number of licences), R (guide), SAS, SPSS, STAT/Transfer, Stata, and more. As of Feb. 2018, the Data Lab has walk-in hours too from 10 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday, during which you can get basic support
  • Have you taken a look at the Numeric Data guide? Resources are broken down by subject and the guide provides information on the difference between aggregate and microdata, how to cite data, and more
  • McGill has access to Statistics Canada public use microdata files, mainly through the <odesi> portal
  • McGill has access to the Discharge Abstracts Database (DAD) through the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and <odesi>
  • You can request access to the Postal Code Conversion Files (PCCF) (2016 is here!) by emailing Our license for the PCCF does not allow for distribution through a third-party portal such as <odesi> (just the metadata for the PCCF is there), but we’re looking into a secure, local dissemination model that will meet new license requirements. (Clarification added 19/02/2018–thanks, Berenica!)
  • Did you know that as a graduate student you can request access to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) microdata and Statistics Canada master-level files? Our Numeric Data Librarian, Berenica Vejvoda, is a great resource person to help you figure out if you need access and to walk you through those processes

Some other useful and hard-to-find resources include:

There is also a small budget for one-time data purchases, and knowing what people need, even when the budget is too tight for an immediate acquisition, helps the Library plan for future purchases.

Feel free to contact your Liaison Librarian too!



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