The access to high quality data is an important strategic resource and a key factor in advancing research within the administration, from academic institutions and the private sector. Data sources also increase substantially in analytical value if it is possible to link data from different sources: data linkage increases the knowledge advancement, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness, while reducing the burden on respondents. Research, particularly in the social and medical sciences, is essentially based on data analysis, mostly individual data, which is sometimes highly sensitive.

In order to facilitate data linking for research while respecting the protection of personal data and scientific principles, the missions of linkhub.ch are:

The creation of a legal and institutional environment that supports academic and administrative research based on data linking

  • Network of partners to promote the need for access to administrative and private data for research and their linkage.

linkhub.ch organised a workshop in October 2019 to discuss the need for a national strategy for the access to and the linkage of administrative and private data for research. This workshop brought together several Federal Offices and major players in the field of data and research in Switzerland: the BAG, the BFS, the BSV, the HTW Chur, the SAGW, the SBFI, the SECO, the SEM, the SLHS, the SNF, the SPHN, swissuniversities, SWITCH and the institutions of the members of linkhub.ch steering committee, FORS, the University of Berne, the University of Basel, and the University of Geneva.

As a result of this workshop, a working group has been formed to launch a national initiative for access to administrative and private data for research.

linkhub.ch is also involved in the SWITCH’s Connectome project, a pilot project for advancing the vision of a Research Data Connectome together with seven partners. The Connectome aims to make data from various disciplines, stored in different locations, easily findable, accessible, reusable and connected.

  • Report on the access to and the linking of administrative and private data for research under mandate of the SAGW.

As part of the working group on the national initiative for access to administrative and private data for research initiated by the linkhub.ch steering committee, FORS has been commissioned by the SAGW to draft a report detailing current practices and the legal basis for access to sensitive administrative and private data (in particular personal data) for research in Switzerland. The report also proposes options and suggestions for changes to the legal framework that would facilitate access to data and data linkage using this methodology.

The aim is to provide the competent bodies of the ERI (SERI, SNSF, swissuniversities, ETH Domain) and other stakeholders (SWITCH) with a basis for decisions and possible solutions. The report is also addressed to the Federal Offices concerned with the subject and to the scientific community, i.e. disciplines that conduct research on the basis of personal data, such as the social sciences and human medicine.

The report was submitted for stakeholder consultation in November 2020.

The report is avaliable here

The dissemination of knowledge about data linking

To facilitate data linking, linkhub.ch provides methodological support.

To access it, you can go to the tab Methodology