The UK's largest collection of digital research data in the social sciences and humanities

About us

The UK Data Archive is an internationally acknowledged centre of expertise in acquiring, curating and providing access to social science and humanities data.

Founded in 1967 by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) at the University of Essex, we have become a critical part of UK research data infrastructure. The UK Data Archive is the lead organisation of the UK Data Service, which provides unified access to regional, national and international social and economic data, support for policy-relevant research and guidance and training for the development of skills in data curation and use.

We specialise in methods and systems for digital preservation, data curation and publishing, and providing access to data using robust information governance.

Future direction

Adapting to the changing needs of digital depositors, researchers and teachers, we aim to provide a research and innovation system across the UK which is equipped to face the environmental, social and economic challenges of the 21st century.

While our core mission remains unchanged, our disciplinary focus is shifting to include data to accommodate interdisciplinary research, such as smart energy and biosocial data. These strategic changes are based on our reading of new funding opportunities and shifts in the research data landscape. Our innovative Data Service as a Platform (DSaaP), for example, will give researchers access to larger, new and novel forms of data where and when they need it. DSaaP will allow us to provide world class data services for a new generation of big data science in a safe, trusted environment.

The four core aims of the UK Data Archive for the next five years are:

  • Integration into national plans for research infrastructures
  • Delivery of tools to enhance research integrity
  • Service delivery of the UK Data Service
  • Capacity building and knowledge exchange in digital curation


The vision of the organisation is to maintain our leading role as a pioneer and centre of expertise for data services, including long-term preservation, access and support for data, recognised both in the UK and internationally. The next few years will see us harness this expertise further across our own University and outside, to enhance knowledge exchange and showcase what Essex offers in the changing data landscape.