Responses to frequently asked questions are found below. If you cannot find the answer to your questions you can contact the TDLU at or by phone on 03 6226 4291.

How can I apply?

Applications for data linkage can be lodged using the Population Health Research Network (PHRN) Online Application System (OAS) here.

Whether you are applying for a project in Tasmania, or a cross/multi-jurisdictional project using Tasmanian datasets, we encourage you to discuss your project with TDLU staff before applying. You can contact the TDLU at or by phone on 03 6226 4291.

Further details about the application process can be found here

What do I need to know before applying?

The TDLUs project proposal form can be used as a guide for the minimum information required to determine whether a project is feasible. Overall, we suggest that applicants consider the following factors:

  • Study aims
  • Cohort selection and size
  • Whether the study will require controls
  • Which datasets will be required
  • Whether multiple data extractions will be required
  • Approximate timeframes

To submit a full application, applicants will need to also consider the study design, methodology, privacy, and data management (storage, security, and data retention and disposal).

How long does it take to get linked data?

This depends on a number of factors including:

  • The size and complexity of the study
  • The number of datasets to be linked
  • Whether the TDLU has the datasets you require pre-linked in the Master Linkage Map
  • The time it takes to receive ethics approval and data custodian approval
  • Whether you are applying for state datasets only or require Commonwealth data

The best thing is to discuss your potential project with the TDLU at the outset. We will be able to provide you advice regarding study design and potential timeframes based on different scenarios. You can contact the TDLU at or by phone on 03 6226 4291.

Can Tasmanian data be linked to Commonwealth data?

Yes. The TDLU works with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and other data linkage units around Australia to facilitate cross- and multi-jurisdictional linkage projects. These projects are generally more complex and take considerably more time to complete than state-based projects.

The AIHW website provides useful information regarding linkage to Commonwealth datasets. Indicative costs are also provided on this webpage. Any data linkage study that includes MBS or PBS data requires the linked data to be stored within the Sax Institute's Secure Unified Research Environment (SURE)

If you are thinking about undertaking a linkage study and wish to link to Commonwealth data, please talk to the TDLU in the first instance.

How much does data linkage cost?

The cost for data linkage starts at $5,500 and increases based on the number of datasets, time period of data required, and complexity of the project. The TDLU has 3 stages of invoicing, during the 5 phases of data linkage engagement with the TDLU. The 5 phases of data linkage are:

  • 1.Design
  • 2.Application
  • 3.Approvals
  • 4.Data Linkage
  • 5.Data Provision

To obtain a quote, contact the TDLU directly at or submit a quote request through the online application system. An indicative quote will be supplied by the TDLU after preliminary discussions, with a revised quote provided on completion of the design phase. Please note that data custodians may charge a fee for extraction of data from their collections; the TDLU will advise if any additional fees are likely.

I am an interstate researcher; can I access Tasmanian data?

Any Australian researcher may apply to access Tasmanian data collections. Access is subject to approval from the University of Tasmania Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) and from the custodians of the required datasets.

Do I need to have ethics approval before applying?

No, ethics approval is not required before submitting an application. We recommend that applicants contact us prior to submitting an ethics application for data linkage. In cases where an ethics application has been submitted prior to applying to the TDLU, an ethics amendment may be required to ensure consistency with the data linkage application.

Can research be conducted remotely?

Yes, research can be conducted remotely within Australia with appropriate security measures. The TDLU seeks information on its application about where the data will be stored and how it will be accessed.

Can you link to a dataset not listed on the website?

Yes. Linkage to other datasets, including study cohorts, can be negotiated on a case by case basis. Please contact the TDLU at or by phone on 03 6226 4291 to discuss whether a dataset can be linked.

I already have my own dataset, can this be linked to state datasets?

Yes, provided that the source dataset contains sufficient information for data linkage. Please contact the TDLU at for data linkage specifications.

Can I request more information later in the linkage process?

While it is possible to obtain further information, this is not preferred. It is very important to try and design your study to avoid future changes. Any changes after an application has been approved need to be re-approved by ethics and often data custodians, and may incur further costs and time delays.

What forms do I need to complete to apply for data linkage?

The TDLU requires researchers to complete four main forms:

Each document serves a different purpose. The data linkage application allows data linkage units to collect the information required to facilitate data linkage which may not be included in the ethics application. The OAS also provides a platform where applications for data linkage can be assessed by every data linkage unit across Australia. This is particularly useful for research that occurs in more than one jurisdiction.

Choosing variables: What is SA2 geographic classification, and should I select it?

We suggest that you consider selecting the geographic classification of SA2 rather than postcode. The provision of both SA2 and postcode may in some instances result in small cell counts. In Tasmanian there are 101 SA2’s compared with approximately 115 postcodes. The advantage of SA2 is that it is a standard ABS geographic classification and you may want to compare your data against Socio Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) produced by the ABS as well as various population and demographic data. Further information about SA2’s can be found here.

What’s the difference between a research-ready dataset and traditional data linkage project?

A research-ready dataset (RRD) is a fully de-identified dataset containing approved data variables from multiple data custodians that has been pre-linked by the TDLU. A single RRD can be used to answer many different research questions without the need to continually re-link data and regenerate what is essentially the exact same, or a very similar, end-product. RRD’s are stored with the TDLU’s Data Integration Team who transfer data to data users following necessary approvals. In contrast, data for traditional data linkage projects is transferred from the data custodian to the approved data user after data linkage has been conducted by the TDLU.

Can I access the entire research-ready dataset?

No, applicants can only access a subset of the research ready dataset that is required for the study. Applicants must apply to the TDLU and receive ethics and data custodian approval to access data from the research ready dataset.

Can I request the TDLU to develop a research-ready dataset for me?

Yes. The TDLU can be contracted to link multiple datasets to establish a research-ready dataset. Please contact the TDLU at or by phone on 03 6226 4291 for more information.