Making your own dataset

You can make your own teaching datasets from the archived data collections held by the UK Data Service. For example, teaching datasets can be created by extracting international time series data into a spreadsheet and cutting down datasets from the large social surveys.

How you approach making your own teaching dataset will depend upon your aims and the type of data. However, here are some points to consider when using data from the UK Data Service.

Find and download your source data collection

You can access the source dataset in the usual way by registering with the UK Data Service. Indicate that the use of the data is to make a teaching dataset.

Rather than downloading the full source data collection, for many key survey datasets you can download a subset of data from Nesstar.

Follow this link to a video tutorial showing how to download a subset of data from Nesstar.

Making changes to the data

Be clear about the purpose of the teaching dataset: Do you want it as simple as possible for a specific teaching context or broader and more versatile?

Make sure to keep everything that is essential e.g. for survey datasets, think about any necessary weighting and ID variables.

Keep a clear record of the changes you made.

Create documentation

Creating adequate documentation for the new dataset is important.

The documentation should explain the origin of the data and make it clear how the data varies from the source data collection. For an example, see this user guide for the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, 2012: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues Teaching Dataset (PDF).

Good documentation will help:

  • your students understand the data and where it comes from
  • you to remember how you created the data and the changes you made
  • others to use the resource.

Think about whether the information is presented in an accessible way for students and whether it indicates to teachers the potential uses of the dataset.

For large quantitative teaching datasets, consider producing a codebook with both the variable details and frequencies. Such information will be helpful to you when planning further ways to use your new teaching resource. For an example, follow this link to the Understanding Society, Wave 3, 2011-2012: Teaching Dataset codebook (PDF).

The benefits of depositing your dataset

We encourage lecturers and teachers to deposit teaching datasets developed from our data collections.

We know finding time to deposit a teaching datasets may not be easy, but we believe that the benefits make it worthwhile.

By depositing your data, you can:

  • Ensure it is stored securely for future use along with all the relevant documentation.
  • Give students the opportunity to access data through the UK Data Service and therefore learn more about the process of research and types of data available.
  • Help to create a valuable collection of teaching resources so that hopefully you might not need to spend time creating a dataset as someone else has done it already.

Get in touch if you would like help repurposing data or if you have created your own teaching dataset which could be shared with others.