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Data access overview

Find out more about the process of applying to access secure datasets for research.

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What's involved in the data access process?

We're here to help you access secure data in Scotland for research. Requirements and timescales can vary depending on the nature and complexity of the project and the data involved. Understanding the full data access process will help you to plan your research project and submit an initial enquiry.

  • 1


    Before you begin your data application, it's good to think about the legal aspects related to accessing specific types of data or combining different datasets. Identifying the exact data and variables you need for your research will guide you towards the appropriate approval pathway, the right procedures to follow and the permissions you'll need to obtain. 

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    Considering the pre-application checklist might be helpful before beginning an enquiry. The checklist is designed to assist you in reflecting on important aspects of your project, such as the data you'd like to work with, understanding researcher approvals and training, funding sources, and any potential need for additional help during the application process. Being able to clearly articulate your research project and its potential benefits for the people of Scotland is also useful.

  • 3


    The eDRIS team provide end-to-end support for researchers through the application process. On receipt of your enquiry form they will review your project proposal and may request further information. eDRIS will then advise you on project feasibility, provide an estimate of the costs for your work (where applicable), and direct you through the appropriate application pathway

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    Once an approval pathway has been decided for your project, the eDRIS team will support you as you develop your full application. They will advise you on relevant data permissions, software licences, indexing and linkage processes. As your application progresses you will be made aware of any additional approvals or training requirements, alongside the expected project timelines.

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    The eDRIS team will support you in finalising your application and submit it on your behalf to the relevant approval panel: either the Researcher Access Service (RAS) Approval Panel or a Public Benefit and Privacy Panel (PBPP). Applications are assessed by information governance data experts examining the public benefit of projects against the privacy risks. Applications often require refinement or further information before final approval is granted.

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    The eDRIS team will arrange preparation of your project data working closely with key organisations such as data providers and trusted third party indexing services. Once the data is ready, the eDRIS team will support you with data access to the Scottish National Safe Haven or other Trusted Research Environment (TRE). 

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Pre-application checklist

Understand what is involved in a data access request and how to complete the enquiry form.

Complete the checklist
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Begin an enquiry

Once you have your project information ready, begin your enquiry to kick off your request to access public sector datasets.

Begin an enquiry

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