Information Services

Training and resources

How to access and use different kinds of research data

Server room with grass
Image credit Tom Raftery - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Data Library staff act as liaison for a range of national academic data services including the UK Data Archive, EDINA and NERC data centres and can help local students and staff identify and obtain suitable data and documentaiton in usable formats. The Data Library also  provide access to a range of  online data-related user guides and training materials on the following subjects: research data management; social statistics; economic and financial data; geospatial data; macrodata; microdata.

National data services

Administrative Data Research Network

The Administrative Research Data Network (ADRN) is an ESRC-funded  initiative  between UK universities, government departments and agencies, national statistics authorities, the third sector, funders and researchers. It provides a service for researchers so they can carry out social and economic research using administrative data. 

ADRN work closely with government departments to make administrative data available to researchers through negotiation on a case-by-case basis. A metadata  catalogue gives you some information about administrative data that have been used for research in the past.

ADRN consists of four Administrative Data Research Centres, one in each country in the UK with the Administrative Data Research Centre for Scotland (ADRC-S) being led by the University of Edinburgh.



Business and Local Government Data Research Centre

The Business and Local Government Data research Centre was established by the ESRC across academia and on-academia. Partnering with the UK Data Archive it make data, routinely collected by businesses and local governments, accessible for academics to undertake social and economic research in a secure and safe access environment. It also provides a range of no-fee business services and academic expertise from the Universities of East Anglia, Essex, Kent and London School of Economics to help companies or local authorities use data more effectively

Business and Local Government Data Research Centre

Consumer Data Research Centre

The ESRC-funded Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) works with consumer-related organisations to open up their data resources to academics for the purposes of social and economic research.  Consumer-related data are data generated by retailers and other service organisations as part of their business process. They can be used to monitor the needs, preferences and behaviours of customers. 

The Centre provides a safe and secure data infrastructure with three different levels of access as described in the UK Data Service's  three tier access policy, namely: open data, safeguarded data, controlled data



Based at the University of Edinburgh, EDINA is a Jisc-funded designated centre of digital expertise delivering  online resources for education and research, free at the point of use for students and academic staff in the UK tertiary education institutions working on and off campus.

Access to most services involves licence or subscription by universities and colleges, and generally requires EASE or UK Access Federation authentication by end users.

Registration is required for services such as Digimap.



Jisc Digital Resources

Jisc are a registered charity that champion the use of digital technologies in UK education and research.  They negotiate and licence digital content agreements for journals, databases, reference and primary source materials on behalf of UK higher and further education and research. Available services include SUNCAT, Zetoc, Copac, Unlock, Digimap Collections (via EDINA), Old Maps Online, BUFVC, Media Hub. Some services are free of charge and other are free at the point of use for staff and students from subscribing tertiary education institutions.

Jisc Digital Resources

NERC Data Centres

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has a network of data centres that provide a portal for NERC's scientific data and information.  The range of data held within the data centres covers all aspects of environmental science. These data holdings provide a resource for new research, investigating key environmental challenges such as climate change, supporting Government policy in areas like conservation of endangered species or managing water quality, supporting infrastructure development and commercial enterprise.

NERC supports seven data centres covering the following discipline areas:

  • Marine - British Oceanographic Data Centre
  • Atmospheric - British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC)
  • Earth observation - NERC Earth Observation Data Centre (NEODC)
  • Solar and space physics - UK Solar System Data Centre (UKSSDC)
  • Terrestrial and freshwater - Environmental Information Data Centre
  • Geoscience - National Geoscience Data Centre
  • Polar and cryosphere - Polar Data Centre

Note: BADC, NEODC and UKSSDC form part of the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) run jointly with the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

NERC Data Centres


UK Data Service

The UK Data Service (UKDS) is funded by the ESRC to provides access and support for an extensive range of key economic and social data across many disciplines and themes. It is hosted by the UK Data Archive (UKDA) at the University of Essex.

Registration is required and access is via EASE or UK Access Federation authentication by end users.

Secondary data sources include government surveys, longitudinal studies, qualitative studies,  and international micro and macro data in addition to the Nesstar catalogue, and the Sample of Anonymised Records (SARS).  All datasets are made available with extensive support, training and guidance to meet the needs of data users, owners and creators.

UKDS also house the ESRC-funded Secure Lab which enables safe and secure remote access by researchers to data deemed too sensitive, detailed, confidential or potentially disclosive to be made available under standard licensing and dissemination arrangements. Users who wish to access the Secure Lab must register with the UK Data Service and then apply for Secure Lab access and satisfy Approved Researcher Criteria.

UKDS also host the UKDS Census Support Service  which exists to provide access to, and support for, users of the 1971 - 2011 Censuses of Population.  The types of census data include aggregate data, flow data, boundary data, and microdata.

Data spelled out in scrabble letters
Image credit Janneke Staaks - CC BY-NC 2.0

Data Library user guides

The following PDF user guides are also available in hard copy at the Data Library and uCreate, the multimedia and specialist IT resource centre of the Main Library.


Data for Mapping (952.61 KB PDF)

IS Skills courses on working with data

Spreadsheets, data analysis and data management tools

Data-related learning resources

A range of data-related online teaching and learning materials, arranged by subject.

Economic and financial data

Geospatial data

Beginners' guide to UK geography

ESRI Virtual Campus offer a range of self-paced web courses in using ESRI GIS software for the novice, intermediate and advanced learner. Most of the courses are covered by a subscription held by the University, and therefore available free of charge to staff and students.  To enquire about registering for a course, please email

GEO-REFER: geographical referencing resources for social scientists

GoGeo: geo-spatial resource tool


IMF Information and online learning activities

World Bank e-Institute

Penn World Table

Infonation: graphical comparisons of country-level indicators (UN Cyberschoolbus is down for maintenance and will return in a few months with a new design and new content - 6 Oct. 2015).


Social statistics

AQMeN training events (booking required)

CASS: courses in applied social surveys

Introduction to Statistics for the Social Sciences (Coursera)

National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM)

Social Research Association Training Courses

UK Data Service collection of user guides (Type of guides available by topic: data management; dataset; good practice; learning and teaching; methods and statistics; new user; online data services; thematic; video)

Virtual Training Suite: internet for social statistics

Statistics - general

eCourse in statistics

International Centre for Statistical Education (ICSE)

Statistical Literacy

Statlib (Carnegie Mellon University): data, software and news from the statistics community

Statistics: Making Sense of Data (University of Toronto) - Coursera

University of Reading, Statistical Services Agency: guides to good statistical practice

University of Woolongong, Statistical Literacy




Image credit Tom Raftery - -  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Image credit Janneke Staaks - - CC BY-NC 2.0