Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Methods for accessing SLS data

Because of the sensitive nature of the data, the SLS is only accessible from a Safe Setting (ie safe haven). Raw microdata files are not provided to users. Currently, there are three possible methods for accessing SLS data, but all do require initial data prep work to be carried out within the NRS Safe Setting room (Ladywell House – a NRS building in Edinburgh).

  1. Visiting the NRS Safe Setting room and working alongside SLS-DSU staff. We do not supply individual-level data for users to analyse themselves outside the safe setting. All researchers will start off with initial work on data management, deriving variables and exploratory data analysis at the safe setting. Our computers have standard statistical software such as SPSS and Stata, along with Word, Excel and notepad. If you require any specialist software please discuss this with SLS-DSU staff and it may be possible to have it installed in the Safe Setting; for example we also offer R but it is not officially supported by SLS-DSU staff. We also have installed, but again do not officially support, SAS and Matlab – the licenses for these 2 packages expire soon so please discuss with SLS-DSU staff as it may be possible to bring your own licence to work within the Safe Setting once our University of Edinburgh licence expires.
  1. Synthetic version of research data to work on remotely. Once the single analytic data set has been produced with one record per SLS member ie. variables have been derived, data extracts linked and the research cohort has been finalised etc, then SLS staff may create a synthetic version in order that work can be done away from the safe setting. For more info please see our webpages on synthetic data. As code has been tested on the synthetic data, this will reduce the number of Safe Settings visits required to run this code on the real data.
  1. Remote access will involve users submitting syntax files (command files). These will be run by SLS staff on the data. This service is offered only to more established researchers who require models (which do not have complicated SDC requirements etc).

Please discuss with your SLS-DSU staff what will work best for you during the lifecycle of your research project.

Additionally, we are in the process of finalising permissions to allow SLS research extracts to be held in accredited Scottish National Safe Havens (ie to be accessed securely from these safe havens in Aberdeen, Glasgow or Dundee). More details to follow.

Explore the variables held in the SLS data dictionary.

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