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Our vision for the future

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Blog posts

Roger Halliday

08 Apr 2024

Professor Roger Halliday shares his thoughts on our new business plan and outlines RDS's vision and mission for 2024 to 2025 and beyond.

The public sector needs transformative innovation to meet modern-day challenges. To be innovative, we need evidence from across a multitude of sectors to help inform our decision-making - put simply, we need to know what works and how well.

Scotland is well-placed to provide data-driven innovation because we have great data, analytics and a collaboration mindset. But that data is locked away and I’m still hearing significant frustration from researchers about how long it takes to get access and the clunkiness of the current arrangements.

Since being created and funded by Scottish Government in 2021, Research Data Scotland (RDS) has established our foundation to make the changes needed to speed up and simplify the processes for how data are accessed. We’re starting to change that with the Researcher Access Service, but have further to go to get data driven innovation happening systematically.

Our latest business plan, published today, looks ahead from April 2024 to March 2025 and to deliver on our ambitions, we need to achieve four things:

  • aligning approaches while demonstrating trustworthiness
  • shaping and delivering researcher services
  • unlocking Scotland’s data
  • a sustainable system

Aligning approaches, demonstrating trustworthiness  

We need aligned policies and standards on data access and curation, which is rooted in public engagement. Our work with the Scottish Safe Havens Network is starting to bring alignment through a refreshed charter and the Systems Development Fund, which has funded over £1,000,000 across the network to support better coordination and consistency across data systems. Other priorities in this area include developing a policy around industry data access and supporting National Records of Scotland to build their capability to connect datasets.

Shaping and delivering researcher services

Our priority this year is to keep shaping services that are faster and less complex for the user. Our continued and relentless focus will be on implementing the changes needed to reduce the friction in the data system. To achieve this, we will work with the Alliance Technical Group, a subgroup of the Scottish Data for Research Alliance to remove unnecessary steps in how data is brought together and introduce new information governance to help simplify processes while ensuring high standards for keeping data secure and their use in the public good.

We will keep iterating on the Researcher Access Service and using continual feedback to develop the Service.

Unlocking Scotland’s data

Our ambition is to build access to a wider range of data around people, places, and businesses in Scotland. We’re making good progress collaboratively with partners through the ADR Scotland programme and our focus for the next business year is to secure datasets with wide research interest. For example, we’ll work with Public Health Scotland, National Services Scotland and Scottish Government to unlock GP practice data and support Scottish Medical Imaging - a database of de-identified images generated as part of routine NHS care.

A sustainable system

All of this needs to happen in a sustainable system. We’re working to build capability to win funding that supports our mission, and hoping to announce successful applications soon. We also want to take leadership role in making the case for further Scottish Government investment.

The next year will be an exciting one where we’re moving from diagnosis to delivery and taking important steps to achieving our vision to faster and simpler data access.

Related content

A winding river and straight road in a mountainous green valley

RDS publishes latest business plan

The new business plan covers the period of 2024 to 2025 and outlines Research Data Scotland’s priorities towards achieving its long-term vision and strategy.

Research Data Scotland

08 Apr 2024

Benefit Impact 2

New RDS Highlights and Impact report published

We’re excited to share our first ever Highlights and Impact report, reflecting on the progress and connections we’ve made since we were established as a charity in 2021, all the way through to our latest projects.

Research Data Scotland

28 Mar 2024

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