Protecting the anonymity of GUS participants is of paramount importance to us. Before we archive the data, we remove any obvious identifiers from the datasets (including date of birth and geographical identifiers such as postcode) and remove any variables that have a very small count by aggregating responses to form larger response categories. To ensure that no one attempts to use the data to try to identify participants through deductive means, we have also recently introduced more restrictions on accessing the full dataset.
Different restrictions apply to the datasets.
Some data have been archived as ‘Safeguarded’ data. This can be accessed simply by registering your details (name and place of work) with the UK Data Archive and ticking a box to say that you agree to a set of licence conditions. None of these conditions are onerous. They prohibit: using the data for commercial purposes; sharing the data with anyone else; and using the data to attempt to identify individuals.
BC2 sweep 1 data is currently available in this way, as is a teaching dataset for BC1 sweeps 1-6. The teaching dataset contains the same number of cases as the full dataset but variables that have been considered more sensitive have been removed. The accompanying documentation makes it clear which variables have been removed (variables are highlighted in yellow in the variable list). The results of analysis using the teaching dataset will be valid but researchers carrying out any modelling work should consider whether there are other variables in the special licence dataset that should be controlled for.
Most data have been archived as ‘Special’ data. To access this data you must download and complete the Special Licence application. Applications are initially screened by the UK Data Archive and then passed to the data depositor for approval. Because data applications under a Special Licence require explicit consent from the data depositor, applicants should expect a time delay whilst their application is being processed. The Scottish Government and Scotcen will aim to review applications within one month. The application form requests your details, a list of the research team, some information about the research project, details of any data linkage you would like to undertake, and a declaration that you will abide by a set of conditions. One of the conditions of access is that you have read and will abide by the Microdata Handling and Security: Guide to Good Practice
Data sets currently available under Special licence:
Data from BC2 sweep 2 will be available very shortly.
When we consulted GUS users on our plans to change the licence conditions, one of the concerns raised was that the requirement to apply for the data might make it difficult for students to access the data for dissertations that need to be submitted within tight time constraints. As a possible solution we explored, with the UK Data Service, whether it would be possible for supervisors to submit a request for the data and name a number of students as part of their teams. However, the UK Data Service has insisted that each individual requiring access to the data must complete their own form and individually sign up to its terms. We will, however, do our best to respond to applications as quickly as possible. To notify us of an urgent application, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Data that is potentially disclosive have been archived as ‘Secure’ data. Access is currently limited to users in UK HE/FE and requires remote desktop or safe room access. Users must complete a form outlining their experience with using data, the intended purpose and justification for access which is sent to the data owner for approval. A Secure Lab User Agreement is also required, countersigned by their institution’s contract’s office. Face-to-face training is required (covering relevant legislation, how to use the service safely, Statistical Disclosure Control).
BC1 sweep 5 postcode data are currently available in this way.
The data is available in SPSS or STATA.
All documentation, including paper copies of the Questionnaire, is available from the UK Data Service or from here.
If you do use GUS data to inform your research, please let us know by emailing email@example.com. It is important for us to keep track of what the data is being used for so that we can demonstrate impact. If you’re interested in presenting your findings to relevant policy officials in The Scottish Government, please also let us know. This is something we are happy to facilitate. Please also get in touch if you have a research question but do not have the skills to be able to analyse the data.
We occasionally run Data Workshops to promote the data and to support those who wish to find out more about it. The materials from these workshops can be accessed here.