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Introducing our data skills modules: free, interactive training from the UK Data Service

Exploring and analysing complex datasets for the first time can be daunting. If you are new to using data, whether in your studies or as part of your job, our data skills modules can help you understand how to find and explore data and how to present your findings clearly and accurately.

These data skills modules are a series of online interactive self-learning courses which can be found in our learning hub. There is no requirement to register and no cost to undertake this training.

The modules show you how to get started with three commonly-used types of data. They explain where you can locate good quality data, how to explore and analyse datasets and the best way to present your results.

Each module takes between 90 minutes and three hours to complete, but you can dip in and out of the materials in your own time. You can even choose to study specific parts that are directly relevant to you, or go back and repeat sections that you found particularly useful. On finishing the module you can download a certificate of completion.

You can choose from any of the following modules:

  • Introduction to survey data
    Survey data are collected via questionnaires, have large sample sizes and can create nationally representative statistics.
  • Introduction to longitudinal data
    Longitudinal data follow individuals or households over time to measure change.
  •  Introduction to aggregate data
    Aggregate data often includes administrative and geographic data, such as information about populations or the Gross National Product of a country.
  • Exploring crime surveys with R (Beta version)
    Crime surveys collect data about victimisation and anti-social behaviour. These can be analysed using R Studio, a user-friendly interface for the software R.

All our training modules use real-life data that is available from the UK Data Service catalogue. These data have been previously collected and are ready for secondary analysis.

The advantage of using datasets from the Service catalogue is that they cover numerous topics of interest to social science researchers, such as COVID-19, the environment, crime, poverty and housing to name but a few. They have also been collected by organisations that specialise in nationwide or cross-national data collection, such as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER). Data within the catalogue have been objectively sourced and the outputs are of high quality – that is to say, nationally-representative, meaningful and reliable.

Each data skills module explains how the data were collected and where you can locate data relevant to your research. We also show you how to explore and refine data and the best methods for analysis and visualisation.

You can follow the modules without using any statistical software; if you do want to join in with some of the interactive exercises you can download the software used for free or for the surveys and longitudinal modules use the open-source software PSPP which is comparable to the SPSS statistical analysis software used.

Further modules will be added to the data skills suite over the coming months. Please contact our communications team if you would like to be notified when new modules are published, or to request a module that covers another area, or if you have any feedback on the current training.

Please listen to the UK Data Service’s Sarah King-Hele explain more to Rodney Appleyard, one of our Marketing and Communications Managers, about how to use these data skills modules in our Data Skills Podcast: