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Data projects

Learn more about the innovative data projects we lead and the initiatives we support.

Equalities Protected Characteristics Dataset

Research Data Scotland (RDS) has been collaborating with Public Health Scotland (PHS), the Scottish Government, National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the University of Edinburgh on a project to create a large-scale research dataset of protected characteristics to support public sector organisations and researchers to monitor the impact of services.

This dataset contains anonymised records covering many of the protected characteristics for more than six million people and used a method of securely linking records drawn from the Census, hospital admissions and annual school pupil census. Ethical considerations in the design of the dataset were assessed with the help from equalities groups and a public panel.

Dataset security

Safe and responsible use of the dataset is paramount, and the data are stored within the Scottish National Safe Haven, a Trusted Research Environment. Under the Administrative Data Research (ADR) Scotland programme and the Health Data Research National Core Studies programme, a significant number of datasets have been brought into the National Safe Haven. The Protected Characteristics Linkage Dataset will be brought into the National Safe Haven shortly and it will be listed as part of the ADR Scotland data catalogue. 

Further information

Duncan Buchanan, Head of Health Data Transformation at RDS, has written a blog post entitled, "Equality data – mind the gap," which offers more background information on the Equalities Protected Characteristics Dataset project. 

If you are a researcher or member of a public sector organisation interested in using the dataset to support your work on equalities, please contact us to register your interest. 

Scottish Medical Imaging Service 

While not directly involved in its creation, RDS has been supportive of the Scottish Medical Imaging (SMI) Service, which launched in beta mode on April 25th, 2022. The Service is now fully functional, with a small number of high-impact research studies already underway, and aims to continually develop and grow in the coming years.

The SMI Service has been established to help declutter access to national imaging data for research in Scotland by providing a single user journey for researchers. It provides information about the imaging data landscape and how to access the data, what timescales are likely to be encountered and the information that a researcher needs to provide to gain access to these data sets.

The SMI Service has been developed and funded by the Interdisciplinary Collaboration for Efficient and Effective Use of Clinical Images in Big Data Health Research Project. RDS will continue to highlight the SMI service and its unique offering to researchers as the service develops.

Related content

Equality data – mind the gap

A new equalities dataset for research draws upon anonymised records covering many of the protected characteristics for over six million people.

Duncan Buchanan

23 Feb 2023

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