Making the data available for research

Where do researchers go to get the study data?

We deposit your de-identified survey responses with the UK Data Service, based at the University of Essex, and the UK Longitudinal Linkage Collaboration, based at the University of Bristol. Making the study data available through these central data stores makes it easier for scientists from different sectors, working in a wide variety of fields, to access and use the information in their research.


What is the UK Data Service?

The UK Data Service is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to meet the data needs of researchers, students and teachers from all sectors. The UK Data Service collection includes major UK government-sponsored surveys, cross-national surveys, longitudinal studies, UK census data, international aggregate data, business data, and qualitative data. We deposit de-identified data from all the studies that we run, including Next Steps.


What is the UK Longitudinal Linkage Collaboration?

The UK Longitudinal Linkage Collaboration (UK LLC) is a UK government-funded initiative that will help researchers investigate the effects of COVID-19 and its implications for public health policy. It is part of the National Core Studies, a major UK government-funded research initiative.

Across the UK, thousands of people are taking part in longitudinal studies like Next Steps which follow participants over time. At the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), we run four studies – the 1958 National Child Development Study, the 1970 British Cohort Study, Next Steps, and Child of the New Century (also known as the Millennium Cohort Study). There are many other studies in the UK, similar to these. Among others, these include, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, Generation Scotland, National Survey of Health and Development, Southall and Brent Revisited, Twins UK, UK Biobank and Understanding Society.

Each study collects vital information which allows researchers to answer key questions about the factors which affect people’s experiences and circumstances throughout their lives. The UK LLC will bring together de-identified data from many of these studies including the four studies we run at CLS, together with linked administrative data, into a single database which will be available to approved researchers for approved research projects. Combining the data from these studies together will make the data even more valuable, creating a resource which will further increase the potential for research. For more details see Adding other information and refer to the UK LLC privacy policy.


How do these data stores keep my information safe?

Access to your survey responses by staff at the data stores is limited to those who manage and prepare the data for access and to those who keep the system safe.

The data are de-identified at all times, and steps are taken to ensure confidentiality and data security. The data services have leading Information Security accreditation (ISO27001) and are regularly audited by IT professionals, the NHS and UK statistics agencies.

Legitimate researchers are able to apply to access the data under a strict licence agreement and required to use the data for legitimate purposes. Where your routine administrative records have been linked to your survey responses, additional measures are in place, including limiting access to researchers based in the UK and to researchers who need to demonstrate that they will be competent and safe users, that their project is in the public interest, is not run for profit making purposes, and will meet the requirements of CLS and the owners of the administrative data.