Image: Fabien Barral via Unsplash
Tour of CESSDA – UK Data Service
Tue 3 May 2022

This series of articles highlight each of CESSDA's national service providers one at a time. This time we hear from our colleagues in the UK.

  • Who are you and what role do you play in CESSDA?

The UK Data Service provides researchers with support, training and access to the UK’s largest collection of social, economic and population data. It is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The UK Data Service (UKDS) was established in 2012 as a strategic partnership between the Universities of Essex, Manchester, Southampton, UCL, Edinburgh and Jisc to provide a comprehensive international service to meet the current and future digital needs of researchers, data users and data owners from all sectors.

The UK Data Archive (UKDA), lead partner of the UK Data Service, was established in 1967 and is based at the University of Essex. Our practices, especially around data curation and secure access to data, have been influential across the world for over 50 years.

  • When did your country become a member?

The UKDA, now lead partner of UKDS, has been a member since 1976, when CESSDA was first established as a European umbrella organisation for national social science data archives.

  • What does your organisation bring to CESSDA?

As one of the founding members, UKDS has helped to develop and shape CESSDA since its inception. Our expertise in research data management, data archiving and curation, metadata management and development, and researcher and professional training is our biggest contribution.

The UKDS participates in projects across CESSDA and manages the CESSDA ELSST service. Our ongoing activities include the Metadata Office project, the Training Pillar, SSHOC, EOSC and CESSDA Trust. We also support CESSDA communications by coordinating input for the monthly CESSDA newsletter and by participating in the CESSDA Communications Group.

  • What tangible benefits does your organisation get out of being a CESSDA member?

Active membership of the CESSDA network has been crucial to the development of the UKDS as a data organisation of international renown. It has enabled us to lead and contribute to the development of international standards in data curation and management.

The professional co-operation and the sharing of expertise across the international data landscape that CESSDA provides helps us to utilise new data infrastructure developments to benefit researchers.

Providing our data records for inclusion in the CESSDA Data Catalogue enables us to improve access to international data for UK researchers and to reach potential new international users.

  • Which CESSDA tools and/or services are of interest to your organisation? (see list online)

The tools and services which are most of interest to us are those aimed at service providers.

These are for example:

We also provide our records for harvesting to the CESSDA Data Catalogue and find this a valuable resource for all users.

  • How does the CESSDA Data Management Expert Guide help researchers to make their research data FAIR?

The CESSDA Data Management Expert Guide provides excellent advice on how to manage data and plan for secondary use. It encourages researchers to create rich, well-managed data compliant to GDPR with good supporting documentation and metadata.

Therefore, it helps to build in FAIRness from the start by helping researchers create a data resource that is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

  • How is CESSDA helping you to make your data compliant with the FAIR Data principles?

CESSDA supports the creation of tools that increase FAIR compliance via projects and services it funds, and encourages service providers to share these tools openly with others, by means of the CESSDA Resource Directory.

  • Which CESSDA training events or resources do staff in your organisation recommend and why?

The CESSDA Data Management Expert Guide is a good introduction to data management, and we encourage both users and new and existing staff to use it.

We also regularly check the CESSDA training website to find events such as training webinars and resources of benefit to staff and users, and follow CESSDA social media to keep up with the latest event announcements.

  • How do you see CESSDA supporting you in 2022?

The research funding support that CESSDA provides is crucial. Service providers can share expertise in a supportive research environment, working together across international boundaries. Together, they develop new, improved and FAIR tools and services to enhance research data infrastructures.

CESSDA is also a strong advocate for service providers and data archiving in general, and plays a key role alongside the other ERICs in building and strengthening European research infrastructure.

More information: