Tools for Researchers
The International COVID-19 Data Alliance (ICODA) was convened to enable and accelerate responsible research. At its heart, the “Workbench” – a new data platform, provided by our alliance partner Aridhia Informatics allowed researchers to discover, access and analyse global multi-dimensional datasets while respecting confidentiality and privacy. The Workbench brought together a combination of tools and processes, able connect to regional or national data infrastructures used by ICODA members.
Our platform brought together data and metadata from projects and federated repositories around the world to allow our driver project teams to work collectively on focused research questions. Data access and use was subject to rigorous data governance processes, based on the five safes framework. As the ICODA initiative concludes in October 2022, the metadata made available via our ICODA Gateway will be transitioned to HDR’s Innovation Gateway, such that researchers outside our driver projects can continue to apply for access.
For researchers, ICODA and the Workbench, provided a unique combination of features – direct, controlled and federated access to curated datasets and to the most advanced analytical tools. All of these were developed and tested using our “Driver Projects” – exemplar studies where ICODA is worked in close partnership with data contributors and the research community to enable research into the questions they cared about.
Access to the Workbench was provided free of charge to researchers affiliated with ICODA Driver Projects once they were accredited and their project proposals approved. It was accessible to researchers from all parts of the world and we particularly welcomed researchers from Low- and Middle- Income Countries (LMICs).
The Workbench was not just a place to access datasets. It acted as a hub for the global research and innovation community, with access to expertise, training and support available – all with the aim of advancing our vision to support the global research response to COVID-19.
Take a look at the features and benefits of the COVID-19 Workbench and watch a demo of the Workbench in action. Should you wish to use the Workbench as the trusted research environment in your projects, please contact our partner Aridhia Informatics.
"The Workbench adopts an ecosystem approach, supporting open science to tackle COVID-19. This means we want to enable people to form dedicated teams, bring data, code, expertise, and have freedom to operate within the domain of their driver project. And we want to do this while ensuring appropriate use and governance of the data.”
CEO Aridhia Informatics
In order to provide clear and transparent ways of working, our policies addressed a number of key activities:
- Researchers were required to be accredited: qualifications checked, institutional affiliation and bona fide researcher status established
- Project proposals were reviewed for: scientific merit, patient benefit, appropriate statistical analysis plans, facilitation of high quality research, availability of relevant data that could answer the question proposed and whether participant privacy would be protected. Our Review Process Policy sets out further details.
- Our Output Review Process sets out the reviews undertaken for research outputs
- Project proposals in lay form are published
- All of our researchers signed up to our Alliance principles
- Our Publication policy and Attribution and Acknowledgment policy provided guidance for the publication of research results.
How to join us
Our research was performed within a number of Driver Projects. These were designed to test our processes and systems whilst contributing to knowledge around COVID-19.
Although the ICODA initiative completed in October 2022, researchers are still able to apply for access to data via submitting requests through our ICODA Gateway, HDR’s Innovation Gateway or contacting the Driver Project leads to see how they can contribute to their ongoing research efforts.
In order to access the Workbench, you needed to be part of an ICODA Driver Project. Should you wish to use the Workbench now, please contact Aridhia Informatics who provided this service to ICODA.
In order to access data, our researchers were required to be accredited with an approved project proposal or part of an approved project team.
Yes, ICODA operated a proportionate set of review processes in order to ensure it operated in a safe, trustworthy and transparent manner. Similar review processes are in place should you apply for access at the links above.
Each of the Driver Projects provided and provisioned data sets with new data sets being made available throughout the initiative. These are available for request following the links above.
The Workbench provided a secure, airlocked analysis environment, which gave ICODA researchers access to cutting edge tools within a Workspace. Data was analysed in the Workspace using standard tools such as R and SQL; R-shiny apps could be written and deployed; Visual Analytics and Meta Analysis apps were provided and the tooling within Workspaces is extensible.
No. The Workbench provided a secure “airlocked” environment. Researchers were not able to download data.