Learn to re-use data in 2012

Article dated: 4 January 2012

The new year is a good time to review your current research and teaching practices. How can you do more with the same amount of time and resource? Have you considered the benefits of re-using social science data? bright idea

The Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) provides access to our vast collection of more than 5,000 digital datasets, all easy to find through an online catalogue and supported with online documentation and guides, plus helpful staff who can help answer your more specific or difficult questions. The data are free to registered users – and there is no cost to register. In most cases, you can simply download the data directly to your desktop.

Why is it important to re-use research data? Here are a few reasons to consider:

  • it can expand or augment your current research
  • tt saves the time and costs required to collect original data, and opens up access to data you may not have been able to collect yourself
  • it can spark new and exciting collaborations with other data users as well as data creators
  • it can motivate and inspire students studying research methods
  • it can add relevance to courses in economics, sociology, political science, history and more
  • there is a rich resource of data available, as UK research councils now mandate that funded researchers deposit their data with the UK Data Archive and other designated data centres
  • the data are free to access and use – and most can be downloaded directly from the website
Learning by example

ESDS currently has more than 25,000 registered users. Many of them are starting to share their experiences re-using ESDS data in their teaching and research projects.

This is an easy way to get ideas, find others who are working in your discipline or research area, and jump-start your data search.

To see examples, explore our library of more than 80 ESDS case studies.

In addition, ESDS is hosting a series of data training workshops specifically designed for those who want to apply for funding under the ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative.

These workshops are free of charge, and scheduled in sites across the UK. Booking is essential. See the ESRC website for details and links to booking forms.