Data depositors only agree to their datasets being supplied in their entirety: the contents of the datasets in our collection are set by the data owners when they deposit them with us and the UK Data Service cannot produce subsets or give access to select variables within the datasets. Some variables are deemed to be sensitive, which determines the level of access, as set out in our access conditions page. Examples of sensitive variables include detailed information on ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Other variables may be classified as ‘personal data’, even though they may not appear to be sensitive at first glance – this is because the risk of disclosure and re-identification of respondents increases when these variables are used in conjunction with other variables. Examples of these variables include low level geographical information and full date of birth.

The only exception to the above are the cohort datasets in our collection that contain linked Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data. These data are classified as controlled and are only available within our Secure Lab and researchers must complete a variable selection spreadsheet as part of their project application, which specifies the datasets they require for their project. Once the project application has been approved, a subset of the data, containing the requested variables, is made available in Secure Lab for the purpose of that specific project.