Accessing GUS Data

Accessing GUS Data

GUS data can be accessed from the UK Data Service (search for ‘Growing Up in Scotland’).  To download the data you will need to register with the UK Data Service.

The data is available in SPSS or STATA. An overview of the topics covered at each sweep, and all documentation, including user guides and copies of the questionnaire, are available here or from the UK Data Service. Practical help with using GUS data is available here.

If you have questions about using the data, or if you have a research question but don’t have the skills to analyse the data, please contact


Using GUS data? Please let us know!

If you do use GUS data to inform your research, please let us know by emailing 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 or at one of our events, please also let us know. 


Data access arrangements

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, restrictions have been applied on accessing the full datasets.

Different access arrangements apply, depending on the data you’re looking to access. These are outlined below.

  • Safeguarded data

A teaching dataset for BC1 sweeps 1-6 is currently available 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.

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.

  • Special Licence data

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 short time delay whilst their application is being processed. The Scottish Government and Scotcen Social Research will aim to review applications within one month. If your application is urgent, please let us know by emailing and

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: BC1 sweeps 1-7 (2005-2013) and BC2 sweeps 1 & 2

  • Secure licence data

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.



According to UK Data Service regulations, individuals requiring access to datasets must complete their own form and individually sign up to the access terms and conditions. This also applies to students wishing to access the data held under Special Licence (i.e. it is not possible for a supervisor to apply on a student’s behalf).

We aware of the time constraints of much student research and will therefore do our best to apply to applications as soon as possible to facilitate student access to the data. To notify us of an urgent application, please contact and


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