UK Data Service Strategy 2024 - 2030

A shared future

We know that the world of data is rapidly changing, and we are ready to evolve with it, driving innovations and setting new benchmarks. We are continually exploring new ways to enhance our services and provide more value to our users. We firmly believe that our role goes beyond the mere provision of access to data: we see ourselves as partners in research, enabling the creation of knowledge and the pursuit of a more effective national and international policy for societal good.


Vision and mission

Our vision is for economic, population, and social research data to drive an innovative and thriving research and policy-making ecosystem, leading to enhanced knowledge, better decisions and improved outcomes in society.

Our mission is to catalyse impactful social science research by providing access to high-quality, curated and trustworthy datasets of national strategic importance; fostering data literacy; and contributing to the advancement of knowledge through dynamic data infrastructure and strategic partnerships.

We have set out five strategy pillars as a foundation for achieving our goals under each of which we have defined three strategic objectives:

Pioneer innovative infrastructure for data-enabled social science research

We will revise and update services through technological transformation of the digital infrastructure and ongoing development of our workforce.

We will leverage technology and engage with data producers and data users to ensure the maximum possible accessibility and interoperability of our data holdings in accordance with FAIR principles.

We will proactively participate in and lead sector-wide discussions on the future of data for social science research, promoting innovation in ethical and responsible data, use and  reuse.

Provide access to high-quality and trustworthy data for social science research.

We will improve the efficiency of our data delivery channels to give users quicker access to the data they need.

We will improve and extend the mechanisms to discover, access, and analyse our data.

We will continually collect and review feedback to inform improvements to all our services as well as ensuring the highest levels of user trust and satisfaction with our resources.

Curate and actively preserve research data for long-term access, use and reuse.

We will work with data producers to ensure that even more data across UKDS are richly documented, managed, curated, licensed, and actively preserved.

We will establish transparent levels of preservation for data collections and enrich and future-proof data and metadata, with a focus on linked open data.

We will pursue higher levels of machine actionability for the data, metadata and other resources managed by the Service e.g. licences and documentation, prioritising interoperability with external actors and supporting the next generation of Al tooling.

Foster data literacy and capacity for research data sharing, use and reuse.

We will position the UK Data Service among the foremost destinations for high-quality foundational training and support for social scientists in academia and beyond, for working with social, economic and population data, responding to and anticipating user needs.

We will build and proactively maintain collaborations across the social sciences to remain at the forefront of a rapidly changing skills landscape.

We will develop our training and support services to make the best use of developing technologies and emerging forms of data.

Evidence and promote the impact of economic, population, and social research data.

We will identify and leverage opportunities to promote the Service to key stakeholders in the social sciences, including academic and non-academic actors, nationally and globally.

We will extend our data impact communication, presenting our work through different media and to more diverse audiences.

We will actively promote a culture of data awareness, advocating for increased accessibility and transparency of research data and contributing to the global open data movement.

Our enabling role

We collaborate directly with data producers, researchers, and educators across numerous organisations.  The UKDS functions as a hub, facilitating cooperation in social science research.  We offer a reliable and user-friendly platform, ensuring access to trustworthy economic, population, and social research data of national strategic importance.  We also provide access to many other rich resources, including documentation, guidance, support, and training.

We provide extensive support and foster a culture of data literacy for multiple audiences, including data owners, researchers, and other data users.  Researchers, educators, and students benefit from the UKDS through access to a diverse array of curated datasets, enhancing capacity for data-enabled insights.

Evidence-led insights benefit a range of other stakeholders:

  • Central and local governments use data held by the UKDS for policy planning, program evaluation, and resource allocation.
  • Research funders, including the ESRC and other UKRl-funded investments, use data held by the UKDS to identify priority areas and make decisions aligned with societal needs.
  • Policymakers use data held by the UKDS to inform decision-making, ensuring that policies are grounded in the latest social, economic, and population research.
  • Think tanks use data held by the UKDS to conduct rigorous analyses, contributing to informed discussions and policy debates.
  • Charities and other civil society actors use data held by the UKDS to support their advocacy efforts, aligning their initiatives with evidence-based insights.
  • Media outlets use data held by the UKDS to enrich their reporting with accurate and up­-to- date information on evolving socio­-economic conditions.

Through these stakeholders and the data and services we provide, society gains access to transparent and trustworthy information, knowledge, and understanding of social processes and social outcomes, enabling all to work towards creating a better world.

Our environment

As we navigate the shifting landscape of technology, data privacy, legal and ethical compliance, interoperability, and data literacy, the UKDS is poised to meet any challenges head-on.  Our approach to continuous innovation and partnerships will ensure that our users, collaborators, and external audiences make the best of the resources and services we provide.

Rapid advancements in technology, including artificial intelligence, present opportunities and challenges.

Staying current with technological progress is essential for the Service to maintain an efficient and user-focussed platform as we continuously improve both data and infrastructure.

It is paramount to ensure the protection of safeguarded and controlled data whilst improving user experience and maintaining the trust of data providers.

The Service must continuously shape as well as adapt to evolving regulations, establishing best practices, and addressing concerns about data privacy and security.

The Service adheres to the highest legal and ethical standards, especially when dealing with personally identifiable or confidential data.

We develop and set best practice and act as the main source of guidance enabling users and data depositors to comply with ethical guidelines.

The Service integrates diverse datasets and fosters interoperability across different data sources.

We continually address issues related to standardisation, metadata consistency, and data linkage.

Social scientists at any level of experience benefit from support with data and metadata resources, policies, and best practices.

We provide foundational training programmes to help Service users make the most of the data, including highlighting the potential for impact.

Collaboration with data producers, data services, researchers, and other stakeholders helps enrich the Service’s offerings.

We build on partnerships and joint initiatives to enhance the diversity, relevance, and quality of available datasets and training.