Bayes Centre

[01/05/24] Partner News: New digital service for public sector data open for use

Researchers are set to benefit from the launch of a new digital service developed by Bayes Centre Partner Research Data Scotland (RDS).

The Researcher Access Service is a new streamlined end-to-end digital service that will enable academics and data users conducting research for the public good to access secure data in a faster and simpler way.

Scotland’s data is often locked away in individual systems across different organisations and is not in a format that makes access or integration easy. As a result, it can often take too long to access the data we need to answer important research questions, leaving them unanswered or missing opportunities to create innovative, fresh, or even relevant policy.

The Researcher Access Service streamlines and simplifies the data access process so that researchers can access data faster, leading to more timely insights and enabling decision-makers to base their policies on good quality research and data.

Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance, Tom Arthur, speaking at the launch event, said:

The Researcher Access Service is an important step towards the modernisation and improvement of our data access and linkage capabilities in Scotland by ensuring there is a timely and managed process from when researchers apply for data to when they can access data.  

This service is pioneering an end-to-end digital process for researchers and data users to access secure data for public good and I would like to congratulate all those whose hard work went into this launch.

Researchers from approved organisations can apply to use one or more of nine datasets - these are some of the most widely used health datasets for use in research, including hospital admissions, prescribing, emergency attendances and births. Further datasets will be added in areas like education, social work, and justice through discussions with data controllers.

Created and managed collaboratively with electronic Data Research and Innovation Service (eDRIS), which is part of Public Health Scotland and one of RDS’s founding partners, the Researcher Access Service has been designed around the needs of researchers and data users. One clear benefit is the introduction of the first fully digital platform for requesting access to datasets in the Scottish National Safe Haven, enabling researchers to submit and track their application from start to finish via an online portal.

To help test the system, RDS created the Accelerator Awards and funded around £50,000 to three projects and gave them exclusive access to the platform. These projects will use the new Researcher Access Service to link Public Health Scotland datasets for their research.Professor Roger Halliday, CEO of RDS, said:

To be innovative and meet today’s challenges, the public sector needs evidence from across a multitude of sectors to help inform decision-making. I’m delighted to mark the first release of the Researcher Access Service, which will make it quicker and simpler to provide streamlined, lawful, fair, and safe access to data at pace for the public good.

Related Links

Researcher Access Service open for use (