MRC Research Data Gateway benefits from Archive expertise

Article dated: 19 March 2012

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has launched a prototype Research Data Gateway.

The Research Data Gateway was developed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and Oxford University with extended input from Veerle Van den Eynden of the UK Data Archive, who is helping the MRC establish its Data Support Service.

The Gateway enables the in-depth discovery of MRC-funded population and patient studies and their datasets and variables. Users can find and explore variables of longitudinal cohort studies, select the variables needed for their research into baskets, and use those to request access to the data. The Gateway has a federated set-up, whereby study producers are responsible for preserving, curating and disseminating the data and publishing standardised metadata into the Gateway to facilitate data sharing.

The directory already holds over 45,000 variables for 4 case studies: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), the National Survey for Health and Development (NSHD), the Southampton Women's Study (SWS) and Whitehall II. Work is ongoing with various MRC-funded cohort studies to expand the Gateway to contain further studies and their variables, and to develop ingest tools. Development towards adopting a DDI metadata exchange standard is also ongoing.

The MRC invites interested researchers to evaluate the prototype and send feedback to direct its further development.