Accessing and linking data for research in Switzerland

November 2020

This report has been commissioned to FORS and by the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Science (SAGW) and Swiss Academies. is a joint initiative from different re-search projects and institutions to facilitate access to private and public data for research.
This report addresses the importance, current practices, and the legal basis for access and linkage of administrative and sensitive data (in particular, personal data) for research in Switzerland. It provides a basis for the development of a research-friendly institutional and regulatory framework that will not only enable wider and more comprehensive access to data for research but also facili-tate data linking while respecting the privacy and data protection rights of individuals.
It is intended for the competent bodies of the education, research, and innovation (ERI) domain (SERI, SNSF, swissuniversities, Swiss Academies) and other stakeholders in order to provide a basis for discussion on how to improve the conditions for high-quality research in Switzerland. The report is also intended for the federal offices concerned with the subject, as well as for scientific communi-ties that conduct research on the basis of personal data, such as the social sciences and human medicine.
The primary authors are Elfie Swerts and Georg Lutz from FORS; the legal parts are based on an analysis by Anna Kuhn and Nora Zinsli from SWITCH. This report was then consolidated with a “Begleitgruppe” that consisted of Ben Jann, Kurt Schmidheiny, Adrian Spörri, and Markus Zürcher. Various other colleagues from the SNSF, swissuniversities, Swiss Academies and different Swiss Federal Offices have provided valuable inputs on different aspects on this report and 0over the last years.