Get to know the UK Data Service

Article dated: 13 May 2013

Those who rely on social and economic data now have a variety of online channels to learn more about the UK Data Service.

The newly formed Service, established by the ESRC, is launching a series of videos, webinars, case studies and social media channels during the week of 13-17 May 2013. These will be of special interest to social scientists in all sectors including central and local government, charities, think tanks and the private sector.


Five free webinars provide basic training and advice on data available through the UK Data Service, how to find related documentation and guidance, and the essentials of a solid data management plan. An additional panel discussion will focus on the challenges and benefits of widening access to research data. Slides and recordings from each webinar will be available on the website following the event.


A series of online videos feature experts in UK social data telling personal stories of how they value the data and services provided by the UK Data Service. They include: Glen Watson, Director General of the Office for National Statistics; David Walker, Advisor to the getstats campaign; Professor Fiona Devine, Head of the School of Social Sciences at University of Manchester; and Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the ESRC. All videos can be found on YouTube in addition to the UK Data Service website.

Case studies

A library of 120 case studies provides insights into how data from the UK Data Service have been advancing research and building statistical literacy in the next generation of social scientists. All are in a search-and-browse interface that allows users to find case studies by data type and subject as well as keyword.

In addition, users are invited to join the growing online community of data users, producers and stakeholders via Twitter, Facebook and the UK Data Service JISCmail news list.

What is the UK Data Service?

The ESRC established the UK Data Service in October 2012 as a comprehensive online resource designed to support researchers, teachers and policymakers who depend on high-quality social and economic data.

The Service launched its website in March 2013, providing a single point of access to more than 6,000 data collections including UK Census data, government-funded surveys, longitudinal studies, international macrodata, qualitative data and business microdata. All are backed with extensive support, training and guidance. Discover is at the core of the website, a sophisticated search engine that brings all data, documentation and related resources to one search-and-browse interface.

The UK Data Service is built on the shoulders of several long-standing data collections and services, integrating and replacing the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), ESRC Census Programme, Secure Data Service and Survey Question Bank.

It is staffed by social data experts based at host organisations across the UK including: the UK Data Archive, University of Essex; Mimas and Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research both at the University of Manchester; School of Geography at University of Leeds; Geography and Environment at University of Southampton; EDINA, University of Edinburgh; Department of Information Studies and Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis both at University College London.

Discover UK Data Service