Research

Our aim is to empower researchers to access health data from around the world in a responsible way to tackle COVID-19.  The ICODA Workbench provides the processes and tools to enable researchers to analyse data from many different datasets to address key research questions.

A woman in a lab coat standing in a lab holding a pen

Tools for Researchers

The International COVID-19 Data Alliance (ICODA) exists to enable and accelerate responsible research.  At its heart is the “Workbench” – a new data platform, provided by our alliance partner Aridhia Informatics that allows researchers to discover, access and analyse global multi-dimensional datasets while respecting confidentiality and privacy. The Workbench brings together a combination of tools and processes and can connect to regional or national data infrastructures used by ICODA members.

The platform will consolidate data and metadata from federated repositories to allow teams to work collectively on a focused research question.  Data access and use is subject to rigorous data governance processes, based on the five safes framework.

For researchers, ICODA and the Workbench, offer a unique combination of features – direct, controlled and federated access to curated datasets and to the most advanced analytical tools.  All of these are being developed and tested using our “Driver Projects” – exemplar studies where ICODA is working in close partnership with data contributors and the research community to enable research into the questions they care about.

Access to the Workbench is provided free of charge once researchers have been accredited and project proposals approved.  It is accessible to researchers from all parts of the world and we are particularly keen to welcome researchers from Low- and Middle- Income Countries (LMICs).

The Workbench is not just a place to access datasets.  It will also act 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.

  • "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.”

    David Sibbald

    CEO Aridhia Informatics

Our policies

In order to provide clear and transparent ways of working, our policies address a number of key activities:

  • Researchers are required to be accredited: qualifications are checked, institutional affiliation and bona fide researcher status is established
  • Project proposals are reviewed for: scientific merit, patient benefit, appropriate statistical analysis plans, facilitation of high quality research, availability of relevant data that can answer the question proposed and whether participant privacy will 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 sign up to our Alliance principles
  • Our Workbench has a Terms of Use agreement governing its usage
  • Our Publication policy and Attribution policy provide guidance for the publication of research results.

How to join us

We are currently performing our research within a number of Driver Projects.  These are designed to test our processes and systems whilst contributing to knowledge around COVID-19.

At our Alliance Forum event we will be inviting submissions for further Driver Projects as part of a Grand Challenge.  We would love to receive your proposals.  Please attend the Forum or watch its replay for more details on how to submit a Driver Project proposal and join the ICODA research effort.

FAQs

In order to access the Workbench, you must initially be part of a Driver Project.  Over time we will open this invitation up to any accredited researchers with an approved project proposal.

In order to access data, you must be an accredited researcher with an approved project proposal or part of an approved project team.

Your requested data will be then be securely provisioned into the Workbench for you, or for some datasets, you will access it in-situ by deploying federated analytics requests to run against the data.

Yes, ICODA operates a proportionate set of review processes in order to ensure we operate in a safe, trustworthy and transparent manner.

Each of the Driver Projects has data sets available to it.  New data sets are being added constantly.

The Workbench provides a secure, airlocked analysis environment, which gives researchers access to cutting edge tools within a Workspace.  Data can be analysed in the Workspace using standard tools such as R and SQL; R-shiny apps can be written and deployed; Visual Analytics and Meta Analysis apps are provided. Our tooling is extensible.  Should you need something else within your Workspace, please contact us.

No.  The Workbench provides you with a secure “airlocked” environment.  You are not able to download data.

Please contact the service desk at our technology partner, Aridhia Informatics and they will help you further.