About us

About Research Data Scotland

Our vision is to promote and advance health and social wellbeing in Scotland by enabling access to public sector data about people, places and businesses. 

Scotland’s world-class data is locked away in lots of individual systems, across many different organisations, and isn’t in a format that makes access or integration of data easy. Accessing data can take too long, meaning research questions remain unanswered and policy is no longer fresh or innovative.   

Working with our partners, we will coordinate and simplify the process of accessing multiple datasets and help researchers and analysts to support policy decisions that improve the everyday lives of people in Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver Research Data Scotland featured in the Programme for Government in September 2019 and recognised the social and economic benefits that the new service could bring.

To help meet our commitment to transparency, RDS's Board of Directors communicates its actions, policies, decisions, news, programmes and initiatives to stakeholders covering all our policies, board meeting minutes and more.

What we do

Research Data Scotland (RDS) brings together expertise, resources and capabilities from a range of existing data-led programmes across the Scottish public sector. 

This approach ensures transparency about who is requesting data, which datasets and for what purpose and is an important component in maintaining public trust. 

A researcher support service is being developed to provide guidance on access to data, information governance and the rich analytical environment. 

The high-level thematic research areas include:

  • world of work 
  • poverty and fair work 
  • resilient communities 
  • realising our children potential  
  • public health and social care 

Our mission

Our mission is underpinned by the seven following principles:     

  1. RDS will only enable access to data for research that is for the public good
  2. RDS will ensure that researchers and RDS staff can only access data once an individual’s personal identity has been removed
  3. RDS will ensure that all data about people, businesses or places is always kept in a controlled and secured environment
  4. RDS will only create a dataset if it is requested for a research programme or study that is in the public good
  5. All income that RDS generates will be re-invested into services to help researchers continue to access data
  6. Firms that access public data for the public good through RDS will share any commercial benefits back into public services
  7. RDS will be transparent about what data it provides access to and how it is being used for public benefit

Strategy and Business Plan 

Our latest strategy and business plan describes how we plan to collaborate with a number of partners to unlock Scotland’s already excellent public sector data.  

We want to make public-sector data accessible and allow users – whether they be academic researchers or data analysts from charity, government or business to use that data to make linkages and improve policymaking.   

Read Professor Roger Halliday’s blog post for his insight on how the business plan will support in delivering the strategy.  

Who we are

Research Data Scotland is a charity registered in Scotland (SC051305) with registered offices at the Bayes Centre, 47 Potterrow, Edinburgh, EH8 9BT (Company Number SC677016).

We are building upon Scotland’s existing data resources, expertise and capabilities offered by service delivery partners and partner organisations including the Scottish Government, other public bodies such as Public Health ScotlandNational Records of Scotland, and working in partnership with organisations such as Edinburgh Parallel Computing CentreHealth Data Research UK and Scottish Universities.

Working alongside our partners, we will:

  • Build on the linkage-ready data infrastructure being developed by Scottish Government
  • Ensure the eDRIS service within PHS continues to support hundreds of data access and linkage projects each year
  • Use the world-class data infrastructure being developed at EPCC
  • Use expertise for data indexing that exists at the NRS
  • Use the expertise and services of the Regional Safe Havens, including additional data (with coverage of over half of the Scottish population) to the COVID-19 data holding and national COVID-19 related research

Read our FAQs for more information on who we are and how we work.