IHME Data and Methods Access Policy

IHME’s mission is to improve the health of the world’s populations by making available the highest-quality information on population health, its determinants, and the performance of health systems. Transparency is one of IHME’s core principles and we are working to help expand access to the raw data that we use in our evaluations. You can review the full list of IHME principles here. This policy outlines how IHME shares input data and results and enables others to understand our research output and the methods used.

Data

Today, many datasets that we use as primary data to inform our research are protected by copyright or data-use agreements. IHME is committed to sharing as many datasets as possible within those constraints and, toward that end, has created the world’s first and largest catalog of health-related data, the Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx).

IHME makes all published results of research projects and updates of previously published results available online in different formats. Data are provided via summary tables on the IHME website as well as detailed datasets on the GHDx. In the near term, data will be provided through an application programming interface. IHME also provides access to complex datasets via custom visualization tools that allow users to explore the different dimensions of the datasets.

All primary data used in our research are cited in our papers. To help people find those data, users can access the GHDx. IHME had three primary goals in creating this platform: to make health and demographic data easier to find, to promote data sharing, and to raise awareness of the important contributions data collectors make in advancing the science of global health. This free catalog of health-related data allows users to search by keyword, geography, data type, and series. The GHDx also provides detailed information (metadata) about datasets and links to organizations that can provide the data. When possible, IHME negotiates with data owners to make the data publicly available through the GHDx.

Primary data that are collected by IHME directly are generally made publicly available within 18 months of the end of data collection. For some projects, agreements with collaborators establish longer time periods.

Methods

All methods used to generate our research results are documented in research papers, web appendices, and other publications. To make our methods more accessible and to increase the number of potential users, we organize trainings that enable others to apply our methods. In addition, we are developing software tools to enable users to apply specific methods without requiring highly trained statisticians, access to specialized statistical software, or sophisticated computing infrastructure. IHME extends a standing open invitation to other researchers to visit our offices in Seattle and spend time with IHME researchers to review our analytic and computational infrastructure. During our own travels around the world, we make an effort to meet with researchers to discuss our methods. To produce the highest-quality metrics, IHME also facilitates collaborative efforts and discussions for advancing the science and improving the quality of data available.

Please direct all questions about this policy to our Director of Data Management, Abigail McLain, at abbyem@uw.edu.

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