Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit


Who can use the SLS?

Currently academic researchers, public sectors and voluntary organisations may be able to use the SLS subject to approval. The core SLS team is funded to support academic research using the SLS.  For non-UK based projects we require that there is a UK academic on the research team.  Contact us for more information.

Will I have to pay to use the SLS?

The SLS can be used free of charge by academic users. Non-academic research teams will be liable to be charged for the use of the SLS. Charging will be based on the time and complexity of the work being undertaken. If you are a non-academic researcher please contact us to find out if any charges will apply to your work.

How can I find out whether the SLS has the data I need?

On this site you can find out more about the data we hold and explore the variables in the SLS. If you need more information contact us.

At what level of geography can I analyse the data?

The level of geography you can use for your analyses will depend on the variables you are interested in. Great care is taken to avoid small cell sizes which may allow identification of households or individuals.

Even if you are allowed to use small levels of geography for your analysis there may be restrictions in the level of information you are able to see. As this is a complex issue, if you wish to analyse data using low level geographies, we advise you to discuss this with your Support Officer.

We have recently published a Technical Working Paper 5 (PDF 1.5MB) discussing geographies in the SLS.

For an informative presentation about census geographies and changes between census, see the UK Data Service Introduction to 2011 Census Geography

Can I link my own data to the SLS?

It is often possible to link your own data (eg, additional administrative or geographical data) to your project dataset. If you wish to do this, please discuss it with your Support Officer when developing your application.

Can I download my dataset?

It is not possible to download any SLS data because of confidentiality restrictions. However, we are currently developing a synthetic dataset which we hope to make available for download in order to allow users to get a feel for the data. We also hope to be able to build synthetic datasets for specific projects to allow you to test syntax and trial your analyses before coming in to the safe setting.

More information about this will be posted on this site, or you can contact us if you would like to be notified when it is available.

Do I need to attend training before using the data?

SLS-DSU hold training sessions twice a year. Attendance is not obligatory, but is strongly recommended.

As part of becoming an SLS Approved Researcher, researchers are required to complete suitable Information Governance training.  The current course accredited by SLS for anyone working directly with SLS data is the Safe Researcher Training.  Further information can be found in our Step-by-step guide

How do you make sure the data are kept confidential?

SLS-DSU is strongly committed to maintaining the confidentiality of the individuals in our sample. Certain variables are not available for researchers to view, and security procedures in our safe-setting are strict. All outputs from analyses must be cleared by a member of SLS-DSU staff before being released, in order to ensure that there are no small cell sizes or other potentially disclosive information included. More information can be found in the About section.

Which statistical software will be available in the safe-setting?

Most commonly used statistical software Stata, SPSS and SAS are supported by SLS staff for analysis in the safe setting. R is also available but not officially supported by SLS staff. If there is a particular piece of specialist software that you require for your analyses, discuss this with your Support Officer and it may be possible to have this added to the computers in the safe setting subject to the conditions of your licence for the software – it would be expected that in this situation remote access would be difficult.

Can I use more than one LS for my study?

It is not currently possible to combine data from more than one LS into a single analysis due to access arrangements which mean each dataset is only accessible within its own safe-setting. However, it is possible to either: conduct separate analyses on each dataset and then compare or combine the results; or use a new methodology (eDatashield) which allows you to analyse data from more than one LS as though it is part of the same dataset. The eDatashield methodology currently enables all forms of Generalized Linear Modelling, and we are working to extend it to other techniques such as Survival Analysis.  Contact us to find out more.

How long does the application process usually take?

This may vary, however we would normally advise that it takes 6-8 weeks to receive approval and/or comments from the SLS Research Board, and if applying for linkage to NHS data it may take 4-6 weeks to receive PAC approval (applied for separately). If the project is very complex the timescales may be slightly longer.

How can I find out more?

You can find out more about the SLS and our work by exploring this site. The About section is a good place to start if you are new to the SLS and want to find out more about the data and the work of the SLS-DSU. Detailed exploration of the variables is possible using the data dictionary search pages.

If you would still like to know more, or have a specific question please contact us.

Explore the variables held in the SLS data dictionary.

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