Skip to content

Looking back at 2023: highlights and future plans

Photo of a banner with the Research Data Scotland logo and the text

Research Data Scotland

15 Dec 2023

As we reach the end of our second year as an independent charity, we’re reflecting on some of our highlights from 2023 and looking to our plans for the coming months.

RDS joins ADR Scotland programme

Since April 2023, RDS has received additional funding from Scottish Government to help deliver core elements of the ADR Scotland programme. Part of ADR UK and funded by ESRC, the ADR Scotland programme is helping to make administrative datasets more readily linkable and securely available for research. The datasets will cover a suite of critical issues in Scotland, including:

  • Children's lives and outcomes
  • Lifelong health and wellbeing
  • Health and social care
  • Poverty and fair work
  • Building safer communities

RDS is supporting the delivery of the programme on practical data work around ingesting and updating data, ensuring better alignment across the Scottish system. 

Find out more

Private sector data access for public good​​

Earlier this year, we published the findings of our expert review ‘Industry access to public sector data’ which outlines how private sector organisations can safely and securely access public sector data for research in the public good.

By working with the public, data professionals and industry bodies, we’re working to help maximise the insights and public benefit generated by private sector organisations.

Read more about our expert review

Events, conferences and workshops

Engaging with the data community is vital to our work at RDS. We’ve been out and about this year, hearing from data professionals about their priorities and raising the profile of our work across Scotland and the UK. Some of our highlights from 2023 include the ADR UK conference, where Sophie McCall presented on the potential of synthetic data; Data Summit, which saw Chief Data Officer Nora Cooke O’Dowd moderate a panel on the future of AI in healthcare; and the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), where Professor Roger Halliday, CEO, spoke to MSPs about the importance of interrogating statistics.

Led by RDS, the Alliance Technical Group (part of the Scottish Data for Research Alliance) held a workshop earlier this year to discuss some of the technical challenges in simplifying and speeding up access to secure public sector data and collaborate to develop potential solutions.

Read more highlights from Scottish data events

All-partner meetings

Our two all-partner meetings, held in March and September, marked the progress that we made this year and gave our partners a chance to meet in person and ask questions. Around 70 partners and stakeholders joined us for our second all-partners meeting, where highlights included updates on the Researcher Access Service, a partner's view from Suhail Iqbal from eDRIS (electronic Data Research and Innovation Service) at Public Health Scotland, and structured networking around four key areas of RDS’s work:

  • Public engagement and involvement
  • Information Governance
  • Private sector data access for public good
  • Synthetic data 

Find out more about our second all-partners meeting

Public Engagement Fund

Launched in January, our Public Engagement Fund supported projects to help the public understand how their data is used and empower them to have a voice in data science. Over £56,000 was awarded to projects across Scotland to help promote the public understanding of data research, provide balanced information, widen participation and achieve clear and measurable impact.

The funded projects have worked to involve diverse groups of people across Scotland, engaging with underrepresented voices and generating outputs to create a lasting impact.

Discover more in these two blog posts by Katie Oldfield, Public Engagement Manager:

Diverse voices, better outcomes

Creating a lasting impact through public engagement 

Five minute profiles: interviews with data professionals

The data world can be intimidating, and paths into the industry aren’t always straightforward. Our ‘Five minute profile’ interview series spotlights RDS colleagues, helping to demystify the data industry and provide insights into the highlights and challenges of a career in data.

Read the interviews and get to know the RDS team

2024 and beyond

With the relaunch of the improved RDS website earlier this year, we marked a major milestone towards a fully digitised service to streamline access to secure data. The next step is the launch of the Researcher Access Service, a brand new digital platform that will make it faster and simpler to access data for research in the public good. We’ve been hard at work developing the service ahead of its initial launch in early 2024, and we’ll also be involving potential users to help us shape it. Sign up to our engagement list to get involved.

Elsewhere at RDS, we’re looking forward to announcing the recipients of our Synthetic Data and Systems Development funds in early 2024, and to the publication of the Pupil Census and Achieving Curriculum for Excellence (ACEL) datasets, which will mark our first update and ingest work as a delivery body for the ADR Scotland programme.

To stay updated on our work in 2024, sign up to our mailing list and follow us on X (Twitter) and LinkedIn.

Related content

Close up photo of a brown brick wall

Laying the foundations for innovation

Innovation can only happen after solid foundations have been built. Hugh Wallace, Chief Information Officer, reflects on Digital Scotland 2023 and developing RDS's digital platforms.

Hugh Wallace

06 Dec 2023

ADR Scotland logo on a green background

RDS joins ADR Scotland Programme

Research Data Scotland (RDS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Scottish Government, detailing how the organisation will help to deliver core elements of the ADR Scotland programme.

Research Data Scotland

13 Nov 2023

Subscribe to our updates 

To stay updated with Research Data Scotland, subscribe to our mailing list or follow us on X (Twitter) and LinkedIn

Sign up here Sign up here
Illustration of an envelope with a letter sticking out and a mobile phone with a person