Category: Office for National Statistics
22 February 2022
Last week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) launched their new Secure Research Service (SRS) Metadata Catalogue - an interactive and searchable platform allowing researchers to discover what data is available in the SRS.
This new service developed in cooperation with MetadataWorks will replace the spreadsheet that is linked on the ADR UK and ONS websites. Using the catalogue, datasets can be found by searching for a name or theme.
All information available about each dataset in the SRS is now much easier to find, including high-level descriptions, the provenance of the data and the geographic area the data covers. For many datasets, the full details of the variables contained in the dataset with descriptions are also included. This will allow researchers to determine whether the dataset meets their research needs even before becoming an accredited researcher or submitting a project application. The Metadata Catalogue lists all available linked datasets and any associated access restrictions.
The ONS SRS provides secure access to de-identified public sector data for research. ONS provides access to data for accredited researchers working on defined and accredited research projects which serve the public good via the SRS. As an accredited processor under the Digital Economy Act (DEA), the ONS SRS provides a safe setting as part of the Five Safes framework used to protect data confidentiality. To support the ADR UK partnership, ONS has committed to expanding and improving the SRS and significantly increasing the range of administrative data available.
ONS seek to reach an agreement with the data owners to extend the available functionality to all datasets over the next few months. ONS also plan to create new content to add to the new metadata catalogue, which will be designed to further support researchers interested in accessing the datasets for research. The catalogue is in its beta phase, so researchers are asked to give feedback via the link on the Metadata Catalogue webpage.
Tom Carr, Head of SRS Data, ONS said. “We are delighted that the Metadata Catalogue is now live. The catalogue is a significant milestone in our journey to make the SRS data assets more findable and accessible. Our hope is that by providing more metadata and modern search functionality, the catalogue will improve researchers’ experience of using administrative data. Well done to the team for doing such a fantastic job!”
Emma Gordon, Director of ADR UK said, “This new Metadata Catalogue will really benefit researchers, allowing them to more easily work out whether a dataset is suitable for their research needs. It is particularly exciting to see the new, ADR UK-funded linked administrative datasets in the catalogue. We are proud of the investment ADR UK is providing to expand and improve the SRS and this catalogue is a shining example of the difference this investment is making.”
As part of the continuous development of the SRS, the ONS have also updated the SRS pages on the ONS website to provide a better user experience. This update includes a restructured layout and easier navigation of the content, providing easier access to topics such as Assured Organisational Connectivity, SRS Metadata Catalogue and the upcoming Integrated Data Service.