Research Data Scotland (RDS) is working to unlock the power of public sector data to make it quicker and simpler to do research and improve lives.

Established in 2021 by the Scottish Government, RDS connects researchers to public sector data making it faster and simpler to generate evidence to help others improve society. RDS works in partnership with other organisations in Scotland and the UK to build on, and transform, key aspects of the data research system.

Working in partnership, RDS provides system leadership to transform Scotland’s public sector data systems, aligning and simplifying policies and approaches. They do this by safely and securely widening the range of data available, creating new data assets and providing a single point of contact for effective access to public sector data.

RDS is a not-for-profit charitable organisation, funded by Scottish Government. The organisation is a partnership between Scottish Government, leading universities and public bodies, such as Public Health Scotland (PHS) and National Records Scotland (NRS).

RDS was established because data is often locked away in lots of individual systems, across many different organisations, and isn’t in a format that makes access or integration easy. Scotland’s data systems are advanced; it has a rich history in data informatics and longstanding datasets with good population coverage. But this public sector data is not used to maximum public benefit.

Different data holders have developed different processes for accessing public sector data, which makes it difficult for researchers to know what data is available and how to access it. RDS has been set up to tackle some of the important challenges to faster, more efficient and safe access to current and wider Scottish public sector data.