Accessing data

How to access data from national data services and the Data Library collection.

CD-ROM reflection (accessing data)

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National data services

Data Library staff act as liaison for the following national academic data services and can help local users identify and obtain suitable data and documentation quickly and in a usable format.

Administrative Data Liaison Service

The Administrative Data Liaison Service (ADLS) provides a support and brokerage service for researchers wishing to analyse unpublished government administrative data in the UK.

Economic and Social Data Services

The Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) provides access and support for an extensive range of key economic and social data across many disciplines and themes.

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

Data sources include government surveys, longitudinal studies and international data in addition to the History Data Service, Census Dissemination Unit at Mimas (Manchester Information and Associated Services), UKBORDERS at EDINA (Edinburgh Data and Information Access), the ESDS Nesstar catalogue, and the Sample of Anonymised Records (SARS).

The ESDS has also published a guide to Scottish data sources available primarily through the ESDS.

The ESDS has also published a guide to Scottish data sources available primarily through the ESDS.


Based at the University of Edinburgh, EDINA is a Jisc-funded national data centre delivering online resources for education and research free at the point of use for students and academic staff in the UK 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 and UKBORDERS.


Based at the University of Manchester, Mimas is a nationally designated data centre funded by Jisc (Joint Information Services Council).

It hosts a number of the UK's research information assets which are free at the point of use for students and academic staff in the UK, working on and off campus, via EASE or UK Access Federation authentication.

Registration is required for services such as the Census Dissemination Unit and Landmap.

Secure Data Service

The Secure Data Service (SDS) is funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) and enables safe and secure remote access by researchersx 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 SDS must register with the UK Data Archive/ESDS (Economic and Social Data Service) and, once approval has been received, the user signs up for SDS training, at the end of which the user signs the SDS Service Agreement and is given service-specific authentication which allows access to the service from their home institution.

UK Data Archive

The UK Data Archive (UKDA) , based at the University of Essex, holds the largest collection of digital data in the social sciences and humanities in the UK and provides support for the secondary use of quantitative and qualitative data in research, learning and teaching.

Along with Mimas, they also coordinate the ESDS listed above and host the ESRC Census Programme -

Data Library collection

The Data Library purchases and subscribes to a selection of datasets which are available to staff and students at the University of Edinburgh for research or teaching purposes.

Users must register for each dataset as required by the data produced and access the data through online or CD-based interfaces.

The Data Library also offers a set of descriptive links to selected sources of data freely available on the internet, such as data produced by government.

Contact the Data Library to access or get more information about any of these datasets.

Getting help

Data Library, Information Services
Lower Ground Floor, Room L.08, Main Library
(Entry via Reception Point telephone)
Edinburgh, EH8 9LJ
Phone (Tues-Wed-Thurs): +44 (0)131 651 5277
Phone (Mon & Fri): +44 (0)131 651 1317
Web pages:

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