A guide to using Scottish and UK datasets

Thinking about conducting quantitative research on Scotland? Looking for the right survey for your research? Trying to find your feet with a new dataset?

This page contains information on where to find datasets, pdf guides on how to use some of the major datasets and a pdf guide on useful tools for working with any dataset.

Where can I find datasets?

UK Data Service
The UK data service is a website containing all the datasets in the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014 project (and many others). It offers a few different ways to search for data, including different methodological categories, search by a key word, and searching by specific questions. The website requires registration to access the datasets themselves, and is free for any student or staff member in a UK university.

AQMeN researcher Dr Paul Norris produced this helpful ‘Guide to using Scottish and UK datasets‘ document.

Nesstar catalogue

The UKDS Nesstar catalogue allows you to view information on surveys as well as the distribution for various questions quickly, if you know the name of the survey you are looking for. You don’t have to download any files to see the distribution. Click on the + signs on the left to open folders, within which you will find specific pages (or more folders). This is a good tool if you are interested in the distribution of a specific question or want to make sure you have enough respondents in a specific category before downloading the dataset. It can also be a solution in case you cannot download the dataset but still want to produce some distributions.

Example: To access the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey dataset, click on the + sign next to research datasets, then click on the + sign next to the SSA, and then next to the specific year. Within the specific year choose the topic of interest, and finally click on the question you wish to see.

Guides to using 6 major datasets

These guides were produced as part of the Scottish and UK Data project. This project, led by Professor John MacInnes and involving Dr Jan Eichhorn and Professor Susan McVie, created a series of workshops to introduce participants to some of the major datasets and promote the use of Scottish and UK data infrastructure. In addition, we produced free downloadable resources to enable researchers to use the major datasets.

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS)
Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Annual Population Survey (APS)
Millenium Cohort Study (MCS)
Growing Up in Scotland (GUS)
Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA)

Guide to useful tools for all datasets

Using weighting, missing values and filters
Video guide to weighting
Video guide to missing values
Video guide to filters