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

Research infrastructure

We play a key role in building and strengthening the UK's research infrastructure.

We are a vital part of the current ESRC infrastructure, leading the UK Data Service to promote discovery of, access to and support for social science data.

We respond to trends and users’ demands, seeking to encompass access to new and novel forms of data as and when they come on stream. We monitor changes in the data landscape, and make sure data remain available when projects end.

Our organisation was a key contributor to the formation of CESSDA (Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives) since its inception in the 1970s. We contribute to much of its work, and lead in three areas of planning and service delivery.

Future proofing

We are adapting to the transition of 'whole-study' data and metadata to more granular 'data products', for example microdata variables. These granular data products allow us to mediate services that provide the richest opportunities for research in a landscape where commercial providers of 'big data’ technologies have the hardware and software for large-scale data manipulation, but do not yet the policy and governance mechanisms to deal with more sensitive research data.

We are exploiting technical capacity being developed - under our recent Smart Energy Research Lab and our Data Service as a Platform - to allow researchers to link datasets from outside social science with those held in the Archive.

We recognise the huge value in supporting and facilitating multi-disciplinary research, a key aim of the UKRI, and look forward to new funding opportunities, especially around the energy sector and healthcare. We see great possibilities in combining social science data with biomedical, household energy research, central and local government administrative data assets, and in using AI to index and rapidly locate data.