ESRC launches five-year data infrastructure strategy

ESRC has launched a new data infrastructure strategy that will inform its investment in data collections and services to facilitate the advancement of renowned social sciences research.

Why is a new data infrastructure strategy necessary?

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has been investing in social science-led data infrastructure for the last 50 years and has established a world-leading portfolio. In this time, technological and methodological innovations, new legal frameworks, and development in the amount and types of data being created have significantly altered these data infrastructures.

As data infrastructure has evolved, a new strategy has become necessary so that ESRC can make long-term decisions about public investment in data infrastructure more efficiently. These ESRC investments are crucial and will become more so going forward as the requirement to respond to challenges of societal significance grows. This includes:

  • Climate resilience and the behavioural transformation of both individuals and organisations;
  • Economic performance and the UK’s position on the global stage;
  • Education and skills in an advanced digital world; and
  • Equality, diversity, and inclusion.

What will this strategy achieve?

ESRC’s novel data infrastructure strategy is intended to drive its investments, offering a framework to effectively fund long-term data collections and services. As well as this, it will guarantee that prospects to utilise data for public benefit are pursued.

The strategy looks towards:

  • Establishing guiding principles for ESRC’s current and future investments;
  • Developing united goals to boost collaboration, integration, innovation and user-focused services;
  • Facilitating adaptable responses to new funding prospects and shifting priorities; and
  • Laying out a revived emphasis on impact monitoring, sharing and communication.

Positive societal change

Professor John Goodwin, Chair of the ESRC Data and Infrastructure Expert Advisory Group, explained: “High-quality data is critical to understanding and responding to the complex challenges facing the UK.

“It has unparalleled power to drive the timely creation of robust evidence, inform policy and practice, and create positive societal change.

“I welcome this data infrastructure strategy and ESRC’s commitment to building on its longstanding support of the effective use of social science data in research and innovation across all disciplines.”

World-leading social science infrastructure

Professor Alison Park, ESRC Interim Executive Chair added: “I am delighted that ESRC has launched its strategy for data infrastructure, the social science equivalent of the physical infrastructures that underpin the work of other scientific disciplines.

“We are very grateful to those who informed its development.

We look forward to working collaboratively with our current and future investments, and also a range of partners to ensure the UK remains the home of world-leading social science infrastructure that benefits people, society and the economy.”

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