Find out how your organisation can benefit from sharing your data with researchers.

The enormous volume and complexity of data that are being collected by government departments, businesses and other organisations represents a significant resource within the UK, which can be used to the mutual benefit of academic research, organisations and society as a whole. There are also benefits from sharing your data with researchers. Sharing your data with the research community via UBDC’s expert services can reveal and validate its value as a key source of evidence for policy development or as a means of generating economic impact. UBDC can act as a single point of access to your data for the research community.

You can view all of our collections in our Data Catalogue. Some examples of successful data sharing by organisations include:

This research will help move forward our understanding of how social care is currently delivered and assist us in improving the design and delivery of our services. Working with the UBDC has been a valuable experience and a good example of academia and Local Government sharing resources and expertise. We'll look for opportunities to work with them again in the future. Danny McAllion
Data Analytics and Research Manager at Renfrewshire Council

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions from data owners. If you require more information about UBDC services for data owners, please contact us.

What is the UBDC’s National Data Service?

We provide researchers with data free at the point of use, and training in how to use it. Our data collections range from open data, through data with some restrictions required by data owners, to controlled data that is limited to accredited users and accessible only in highly secure environments. Research usage informs our collection building and enables continual data quality enhancement.

Why would I want to share my data?

Many organisations that gather or accumulate large quantities of data lack the resources to undertake its curation and analysis. You may wish to realise your data’s potential for transforming planning or services, but need research skills or capacity to do that. Sharing your data with the research community via UBDC’s expert services can reveal and validate its value as a key source of evidence for policy development or as a means of generating economic impact. UBDC can act as a single point of access to your data for the research community.

What is involved in sharing data?

As a baseline, UBDC has a standard data sharing agreement available. However, many data owners prefer to agree bespoke terms. These agreements typically limit the period and permitted types of use, specify arrangements for making data available, and establish rules for which outputs can be published more widely. Alternatively, if your data is already open, UBDC can simply share your metadata via our open data portal and link users to resources published on existing data platforms.

Will I have any say over who can access my data?

UBDC works closely with data owners to agree terms that maximise the value of data while safeguarding the data owner’s interests. Data access can be restricted, for instance to academic staff only, or according to types of usage, such as non-commercial research. Other conditions may introduce restrictions on where users can be based, or the access mechanisms that we support.

What reassurances are available regarding controls over access?

UBDC takes restrictions around the use of data very seriously. Following an initial approach from a prospective user, we will ascertain whether the proposed usage conforms with your terms and conditions. Where this is uncertain, Centre staff will take steps to verify users’ eligibility (for example, confirming their status as academic researchers where that is a restriction on use).

 

Other than for open data, users are required to sign up to UBDC’s Access Agreement and to any specific terms for your data before being able to access it. A range of breach penalties are defined, up to and including legal action. Our sub-licensing requires users to submit candidate publications to us first, and to attribute the Centre and the data owner on any materials related to the research.

How is access to personal or commercially sensitive data controlled?

Data sharing agreements can permit UBDC to offer data for download and use within users’ own environments. However, more controlled access provisions are available. For example, where data includes personal data subject to data protection legislation, UBDC will not hold it within its collection. Instead, we facilitate access via our ‘safe haven’ partner, eDRIS (electronic Data Research and Innovation Service, part of NHS National Services Scotland). An independent Research Approvals Committee must approve any projects wishing to use such data and infrastructure. This approach enables data from multiple organisations to be extracted, linked and analysed, while protecting privacy or other sensitivity concerns.