The Survey Question Bank began as a standalone resource but has migrated to become part of the UK Data Service website. This newer, more extensive resource comprises a searchable online database of questions and topics related to survey data and is now called the UK Data Service Variable and Question Bank.
What is it?
The Survey Question Bank began as a standalone resource but has migrated to become part of the UK Data Service website. This newer, more extensive resource comprises a searchable online database of questions and topics related to survey data and is now called the UK Data Service Variable and Question Bank. It is produced and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council with contributions from the Universities of Essex and Manchester and is intended to be the first point of access for social science researchers who need data. With 5,000 datasets available for research and teaching purposes it claims to be the UK's largest collection of digital social research data.
Is it right for me?
There is undoubtedly a substantial amount of content available from the Data Service and though it is projected towards social science researchers it would also be relevant to charities and analysts; perhaps by helping to identify trends in data or by allowing providers to see what research has already been completed in their field.
While it has not been designed specifically for the youth sector, it has a search box where terms and keywords relating to youth can be inputted and relevant data will be retrieved. The data have been organized into seven themes: ageing; crime; education; environment; health; housing; and labour; or it can be sorted geographically to help you pin down exactly the kind of data you need.
Registration with the UK Data Service is necessary if you want to download and order data and you will need to apply for an Archive name and password if you are not part of a school or university. From then on, registration is relatively straightforward and free of charge.
The data has been amassed from reputable sources such as the Office of National Statistics, government and intergovernmental organisations (for example, the Home Office and the International Monetary Fund), and research institutes such as the Institute for Social and Economic Research. There is a knowledge sharing ethos to the resource so as well as downloading existing data, individual researchers can also deposit data they themselves have collected.
The website itself is attractively designed in vivid colours with clearly marked action tabs across the top, directing its users to the section of the site that will be of most use. It contains a vast amount of information yet remains simple and intuitive to use.
This resource is most useful for social researchers who have a project in mind already and want access to a variety of datasets on a wide range of topics and wish to use cheaper pre-existing data as an alternative to administering their own surveys. For all new users there is a dedicated section (with information and videos) to enable you to get the most of out the resource; plus a data management tool to help you develop good practice and ensure that data you have collected or obtained can be put to the best use. Those who need additional advice on using the datasets could also benefit from the guidance provided by this website, and there are a number of self-directed learning activities available as well as more formal face-to-face training opportunities.
How do I access it?
The Survey Question Bank