About the DataLab

The DataLab is the data analysis solution for high-end data users who want to extract full value from ABS microdata. The DataLab provides an interactive environment, enabling the analysis of detailed microdata files, and expanded Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs).

The ABS collects data from a range of sources including surveys, censuses and administrative collections. Microdata provides access to this data in unit record files, which contain detailed information about individuals, businesses and other groups. Within a microdata file, each record or row of the dataset represents the information relating to one of these units.

Microdata facilitates in-depth analysis and research for statistical purposes, to maximise the value of data for informing decisions of importance to Australia. Some typical applications include production of papers, journal articles, books, PhD theses and microsimulation.

The DataLab allows interactive (real time) access to microdata files. There are no limitations on what unit record or summary information a user can view within the DataLab, and users are allowed to produce graphical outputs. All outputs produced by users in the DataLab are manually cleared for release after the session. Prior to using the DataLab users must agree to and sign an Undertaking and a Declaration of Compliance. See the Responsible Use of Microdata User Guide for copies of these documents as well as important information about using microdata.

Detailed microdata files have been designed specifically for use within the DataLab environment. Detailed microdata are de-identified and confidentialised appropriately within the context of the other security features of the DataLab. They are more detailed and require less confidentialisation than a CURF. Sophisticated analysis can be conducted with detailed microdata files. All unit record data remains in the DataLab environment. All outputs are checked by the ABS before being provided to the researcher. The DataLab can be accessed on-site at ABS offices or as part of the virtual DataLab trial program.

Expanded CURFs are also available in the DataLab. The DataLab provides a more responsive and interactive environment in which to analyse microdata than that offered by the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL).

Comparison of DataLab and the RADL

LocationOn-site in all ABS offices or at your own desktop, as part of the virtual DataLab trial program.At your own desktop, secure remote access via the ABS website
ContentDetailed microdata files, basic and expanded CURFsBasic and expanded CURFs
Analytical packages availableSASEG7.1, SPSS23, Stata13, Rx64 3.1.2
Other analytical packages may be able to be provided if requested. Loading of different analytical packages may incur additional costs.
SAS9.1, SPSS11.5 and Stata10.
Functionality Interactive. No automated protections of data within the DataLab. You can open and view the entire file, undertake cross tabulations and other forms of analysis without automated restrictions. All outputs are vetted by ABS staff before release to users to ensure confidentiality of respondents is protected. No internet access during sessions.Batch mode system. A range of automated protections of the data ensure confidentiality of respondents. Some commands restricted or forbidden and you cannot view the entire file. See the RADL user guide for further information.
AvailabilityContact microdata.access@abs.gov.au to arrange accessGenerally available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
CostContact microdata.access@abs.gov.au to discuss your project and a cost estimate. The ABS/Universities Australia Agreement provides for university members to access the DataLab.See Microdata prices.
Conditions of useResponsible Use of Microdata User Guide
Terms and Conditions


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