ESRC launches five-year strategy for data infrastructure

Happy mature professor and his students using laptop at campus

The new data infrastructure strategy will guide ESRC’s investment in data collections and services to support world-leading research in the social sciences.

Why a new strategy is needed

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has invested in social science-led data infrastructure since inception over 50 years ago, developing a portfolio that is truly world leading.

Technological and methodological advances, new legal frameworks and growth in the amounts and types of data being generated have transformed the context of these data infrastructures.

Against this changing backdrop, the new data infrastructure strategy is designed to enable ESRC to make the best long-term decisions about its public investment in data infrastructure.

ESRC’s investments will be vital to help understand and respond to challenges of profound societal importance, such as:

  • climate resilience and the associated transformation of individual and organisational behaviour
  • economic performance, localised challenges and the UK’s place in the world
  • education and skills in an increasingly digital world
  • equality, diversity and inclusion.

What the strategy will do

The strategy will guide ESRC’s investment decisions.

It will provide a framework for funding long-standing data collections and services effectively, while also ensuring that  new opportunities to use data for public benefit are pursued.

The strategy:

  • sets out guiding principles for ESRC’s new and existing investments
  • creates aligned objectives to maximise collaboration, integration, innovation and user-focused services
  • will enable flexible responses to new funding opportunities and changing priorities
  • details a renewed emphasis on impact monitoring, sharing and communication.

The strategy has been developed with input from an open engagement exercise in 2021.

Benefiting people, society and the economy

Professor John Goodwin, chair of the ESRC Data and Infrastructure Expert Advisory Group, said:

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 said:

I’m 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.

Further information

Questions and comments are welcome by email:

Top image:  Credit: skynesher, E+ via Getty Images

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