Publishing Guidelines

When writing your proposal, please follow the RDC Publication Guidelines listed below. To ensure that you have followed these guidelines, your product (i.e., journal article, manuscript, white paper, slides, conference presentations, posters and other products) must be reviewed by the RDC before submission for publication. An additional review may be warranted if substantive changes are made to how the output, obtained from the RDC, are reported in the tables or text in subsequent versions of your product (e.g., a revise and resubmit for a journal article).

Email your product to your RDC Analyst to start this process.  Place “Product Review” in the Subject Line of your email.

When conducting these reviews, the RDC does not comment on scientific merit or impose any merit-based publishing guidelines.


  1. Adhere to any specific requirements in your approved proposal and any requirements in emails received from the RDC regarding your output.
  2. Journals can ask that data be included in your article and made available. This is not appropriate for the data used in the RDC. We recommend that you share your data dictionary and merge procedures that are outlined in Data Requirements of your approved proposal (Section E. ). It is RDC policy not to share information about proposals, so all information regarding the dataset must be provided by your research team.
  3. You must not reveal any information:
    1. That could identify an individual or establishment
    2. That could be used to identify geographic areas where respondents live or were sampled unless you specifically have permission to make estimates for those areas
    3. About exact dates
    4. Any mechanism that could unintentionally reveal information about any of the above items. Remember publishing information on external sources of data after they have been merged to NCHS data could facilitate the identification of areas, dates, or individuals.
  1. Follow the RDC citation requirements.
  2. Ask the RDC Analyst for help or clarification anytime you have a disclosure concern.

These guidelines refer only to disclosure concerns related to publishing. The RDC does not comment on scientific merit or impose any merit-based publishing guidelines.

Areas of Disclosure Concern


Disclosure Concern Action(s)
1 Unreleased information
  • If you intend to discuss something that you observed while in the RDC, but this information did not undergo disclosure review, share this information with your Analyst to assess if it poses a disclosure risk.
2 Geographic information
  • Do not mention geographic information not available in the public files (e.g. specific states, countries), unless it was part of your approved proposal.
  • Do not discuss the number of geographic units represented in your output without written permission.
  • Do not present unweighted sample sizes related to lower levels of geography.
3 Temporal information
  • Do not mention exact dates
  • Do not mention coarsened dates (e.g. seasons, year), without written permission.
  • Avoid presenting unweighted sample sizes related to temporal components.
4 External data sources merged to NCHS data using geographic or temporal variables
  • Do not reveal any information that could facilitate the identification of areas, dates or individuals who participated in NCHS surveys.
  • Follow these same guidelines when discussing the non-NCHS data that were merged with NCHS data.
5 Identification of an individual or Establishment Discuss inclusion and exclusion criteria for sub-population analysis in a way that does not inadvertently identify small cells or extreme cases. This includes information on individual(s) or establishment(s). Review for: such as:
  • Fewer cases than those specified cell suppression criteria.
  • Extreme cases or outliers that were identified during analysis.
  • Unweighted counts that could be subtracted from totals to reveal a sample size less than those specified in the required cell suppression criteria.

How to cite the RDC

When describing where the restricted-use data came from for your study, you should specify that restricted-use data were accessed through the Research Data Center. You should also indicate why they these data were essential to your research study. Here are two brief examples:

    • Geographic variables including state, county, and tract were used to merge Census variables which provided neighborhood contextual information. State, county, and tract are restricted-use variables, and these data were accessed through the Research Data Center.
    • To merge the patient and agency files, we needed the restricted facility identification variable. Because the analyses required restricted-use data, the data were accessed through the Research Data Center.

Do not place these kinds of statements in your products:

    • Analyses of these data were approved by the NCHS Research Data Center.
    • The NCHS Research Data Center reviewed and approved our results.

When displaying output in your products, provide the Data Source.  The content of a Data Source citations is usually provided by the data owner in their data documentation.

Include the following disclaimer in your product:

  • The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Research Data Center, the National Center for Health Statistics, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ERB Approval

As a reminder, NCHS data collection and analysis of restricted-use data have been approved by the NCHS Ethics Review Board (ERB). Please use the sample language below to indicate ERB approval in your products.

  • Data collection for (fill in NCHS survey name) was approved by the NCHS Research Ethics Review Board. Analysis of de-identified data from the survey is exempt from the federal regulations for the protection of human research participants. Analysis of restricted data through the NCHS Research Data Center is also approved by the NCHS ERB.

Send Us Your Publications

We would like to include any presentations, reports, or publications in our list of publications. They will serve as examples of work completed with access to restricted-use data in the RDC.


Page last reviewed: April 3, 2019, 09:35 AM