Enabling high-quality social science research

Governance and funding

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in its current form established the UK Data Service in October 2012, after originally setting up and funding the organisation in earlier forms since 1967.

We receive additional funding from other UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) councils including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to enable specific projects such as the Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL), and European based projects and investments such as the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) and Synergies for Europe’s Research Infrastructure in the Social Sciences (SERISS).

A productive investment

Through enabling long-term research access to invaluable data, the UK Data Service plays a big part in helping build a stronger society and creating better lives for people in the UK. We add value to key national data investments by continuing to make them reusable long-term, enabling research with real impact. We train researchers in highly specialist data skills, previously lacking in the UK and we enable those who teach social sciences to use real data to
bring their teaching to life.

As a free service to data owners and free at the point of use to non-commercial data users, we provide long term value for money to both data owners and data users.

Annual reports


Advisory committee

Following the establishment of UKRI in 2018, the new national body that brought together all UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England, the strategic oversight and provision to the ESRC of independent assurance for the UK Data Service has been undergoing change.

A new advisory committee for the UK Data Service was established in 2019 and meets twice a year. The advisory committee for the UK Data Service is the independent body with responsibility to ensure that the investment is developed, managed and maintained in a manner that maximises its benefit as a long-term scientific resource of importance both nationally and internationally. As an independent body, advisory committee members act as critical friends in relation to the overall shape, academic direction and relevance to policy and practice of the UK Data Service, advising on its general strategy in order for it to achieve its overall objectives. Scientific and/or methodological advice may also be sought from external, independent sources.

The Advisory Committee is not taking additional members currently. If you are interested to find out more about joining this committee when a space becomes available, or funding collaborative projects with the UK Data Service, please contact Gemma Hakins.