What is the Variable and Question Bank?

The UK Data Service Variable and Question Bank is a search and browse interface that allows you to find and retrieve information about variables and questions from a range of survey datasets held by the UK Data Service.

A key benefit of the Variable and Question Bank is that users can find consistency across datasets, for example where harmonised or common variables have been used over time across different economic and social surveys. Each variable record provides a link to more information about the item. Some of these links may take you to other websites. Users may select and store variables in their My Variables basket and compare these variables side-by-side.

The UK Data Service Variable and Question Bank contains over 450,000 variables, with over 250,000 containing question text/responses. Coverage extends across most of the recent, major UK surveys and longitudinal studies.
Much of the information below can also be found by clicking the Help link on the Variable and Question Bank search bar.

How do I browse?

The Variable and Question Bank has several filters on the left hand side, allowing you to browse. Click on the +/- signs next to each filter to show the filter options available. Once you have made your filter selections, click on ‘Refine’ to retrieve results.

To remove any of your filters, untick the box next to them and click ‘Refine’. Alternatively, clicking ‘Reset all filters’ will remove all your selections.

How do I search?

Enter your search terms into the search box and click ‘Search’. You can also combine search terms with the filters; for instance, searching for the term ‘attack’ and ticking the ‘Data collector’ filter for ‘National Centre for Social Research’. This will search for variables containing the word attack where the data collection has been undertaken by the National Centre for Social Research. You may select your filters first or undertake the search first.

If the ‘Auto-complete’ box is ticked, the search interface will present suggestions for your search. To clear your search, click ‘Clear search’.

Sorting and viewing results

All results sets can be sorted by:

  • date
  • survey title
  • relevance (with the text entered into the search box being given weight).

The number of hits found is displayed at the top of the results list. There is no limit to the maximum number of hits retrieved.

To view a single variable record on one page, click on the variable name and label (in red) that you are interested in.

To compare variables, choose ‘Add to My Variables’ and then select the ‘My Variables’ basket at the top right of every page. Your ‘My Variables’ basket can hold an unlimited number of variables – though users may temporarily de-select (hide from view) or permanently remove variables from their basket at any time.