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Researcher Access Service

A streamlined end-to-end platform for researchers accessing secure data.

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Introducing the Researcher Access Service

The Researcher Access Service offers a fully digitised, faster, and more efficient pathway for research projects that use nine of Public Health Scotland’s most frequently requested datasets. Projects deemed suitable for this new pathway will no longer need to be considered by a Public Benefit and Privacy Panel (PBPP). Instead, projects will follow a risk-based triage process guided by the Five Safes framework.

Launched in April 2024, the Researcher Access Service has been co-developed in partnership with the eDRIS team at Public Health Scotland, the organisation that curates and controls many of Scotland’s most powerful national health datasets. Read more about the development of the Researcher Access Service on our project page.

What are your data needs?

Answer a few short questions to determine whether we can help you with your project.

Begin an enquiry Begin an enquiry
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A more efficient pathway for researchers

Historically, ways of accessing public sector data for research in areas such as health, education, child protection and justice have been extremely fragmented. From a researcher’s perspective, even simple requests are not straightforward, forcing people to work across multiple websites and follow often convoluted processes.

The Researcher Access Service (RAS) speeds up and simplifies this process by offering a digitised end-to-end pathway, including a portal for applicants to track the status of their application.

Two pathways, one entry point

Depending on your data needs, your application will follow one of two pathways:

RAS Approval Pathway

Find out if your project fits the criteria for the Researcher Access Service (RAS)

PBPP Approval Pathway

For projects requiring approval from either the Public Benefit and Privacy Panel for Health and Social Care (HSC-PBPP) or the Statistics Public Benefit and Privacy Panel (S-PBPP)

For both pathways, you’ll start by submitting an enquiry. Rest assured that the eDRIS team will guide you through the appropriate pathway once your enquiry has been assessed.

At this time, only researchers applying for data access through the RAS Approval Pathway will submit their full application using our online application system. Please note that the criteria projects must meet to progress through the RAS Approval Pathway must continue to be met throughout the lifespan of a project. If at any point you request a change that takes your project outside the scope of the RAS Approval Pathway, you will need to submit a new application through the PBPP Approval Pathway.

As we continue to improve the Researcher Access Service, RDS will work with eDRIS and other partners to broaden the scope of the RAS Approval Pathway. We expect this pathway to include a more diverse range of datasets and variables in due course.

Discover more

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Preparing your application

Find guidance on the how to submit an application and which documents to prepare.

Find application guidance
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RAS Approval Pathway costs

Find more information on the RAS Approval Pathway pricing model.

View pathway costs
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How RDS works with eDRIS

Discover how we work together with our eDRIS colleagues to provide data access support.

Discover eDRIS support
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Research data security

Read more about how we've structured our service based on the Five Safes Framework.

Read about data security

Help shape our Researcher Access Service

Interested in supporting the development of the Researcher Access Service and helping us shape our work?

Join our engagement contact list Join our engagement contact list
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