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Secure Data Center

GESIS provides long-term preservation for an extensive holding of survey and other research data. These data are curated, processed, and documented to provide re-usable data to the broad scientific community. However, some of these data cannot be accessed in the usual way as they are more detailed and sensitive. Researchers can instead access these data via the Secure Data Center where additional access measures are applied.

The Secure Data Center

  • provides access to a range of disclosive research data that is subject to special access requirements and restrictions, e.g. for reasons of data sensitivity
  • provides advice on research data protection and statistical disclosure control.

The Secure Data Center is open for scheduled visits Monday to Friday, 09:00-16:30. 


The Secure Data Center offers the following services:

On-site Access to sensitive, restricted-access GESIS data

Sensitive, restricted data can be analyzed via the Safe Room in Cologne. The Safe Room has 4 guest workstations, and is located at the GESIS offices, a 5-minute walk from Cologne central station.

Researchers  must first complete the application process and sign a Data Use Agreement contract (131 kB). Once this has been approved, researchers can book an appointment to visit the Safe Room. 

A number of technical and organizational measures (leaflet) (104 kB) are in place that ensure data confidentiality and security are maintained and that allow researchers to use these data safely.

Additional on-site access locations:

We can now provide on-site access to certain restricted GESIS datasets via the Safe Room at the UK Data Service SecureLab, UK. Researchers must first complete the standard Secure Data Center application process before scheduling a visit to this location.   


On-site access to restricted data available through other Institutions

GESIS also provides access points at the Safe Rooms at the Secure Data Center, Cologne and the German Microdata Lab (GML), Mannheim to restricted data made available through the Research Data Centre of the German Federal Employment Agency (BA) at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) and the UK Data Service SecureLab.

Research Data Centre of the German Federal Employment Agency (BA) at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB):

UK Data Service (UKDS) SecureLab, United Kingdom:

  • Researchers must first complete the UKDS application process. Information about the process can be found here.
  • An overview of the available data can be found here
  • To request a researcher visit to access UKDS data at either Cologne or Mannheim, please complete the online request form: Form Appointment Request – GML (
  • Please note the opening times of the Secure Data Center, Cologne and the GML, Mannheim when requesting specific dates. The Safe Room in Mannheim is open Monday-Thursday.
  • The UKDS SecureLab has a regular shutdown period for maintenance every Tuesday between 10:00-13:30 (CET), therefore visits are not possible on Tuesday mornings.

The GML at Mannheim also provide access to additional restricted data from the Netherlands and France through the International Data Access Network (IDAN) project. More information can be found on their website: Safe Room Mannheim – GML (


Off-site Access

Signing a contract (199 kB) for off-site access allows access to selected social science research datasets. Off-site access delivers data to users for a specified time period on condition users honor precise security requirements (leaflet) (217 kB).

Breaches and contractual penalties

Licence compliance policy [.pdf (177 kB)]


The Secure Data Center advises on questions of using sensitive research data.