Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Future data services

The aim of the Future Data Services (FDS) programme is to establish what is needed for the next generation of data services beyond 2024.

To achieve this, ESRC is:

  • gathering evidence for, exploring and assessing the future needs of its communities
  • developing options while recognising that research is more interdisciplinary than ever before
This programme of work will conclude in 2024 following evidence gathering, options appraisal and the development of recommendations.
Partners involved:
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

The scope and what we're doing

The overall aim of the FDS programme is to establish the needs of the social science community and the data services they work with and make recommendations which will help establish how best to invest in the next generation of data services beyond 2024.

ESRC is considering how to invest in providing access to social science data and associated services in the future. The aim of this is to ensure that the services and infrastructure we fund support the needs of data users, owners and managers from across sectors, and remains fit for purpose, within a rapidly evolving landscape. This will be achieved through:

  • evidence gathering
  • synthesis of the evidence
  • analysis of options
  • agreement of an overall vision and recommendations
  • consequent commissioning

Data landscape

The data access landscape has changed considerably since the initial investment in UK Data Service in 2012 due to a variety of factors, including:

  • developments in technology
  • increased public awareness of how and why their data is used
  • a growth in the number of trusted research environments
  • an increasing demand for openness in data and research publishing

While the data landscape has expanded (with more types and sources of data available for researchers to use), service provision has also greatly increased. A number of new services have been established since UK Data Service was launched in 2012. These include:

In addition, CLOSER has operated to provide services to researchers who are specifically using longitudinal data for their work.

Opportunities, support and resources available

We will be running a series of reverse science cafes on a range of topics over the coming months.

For further information please see: Future Data Services: Reverse Science Cafes.

Who to contact

Ask a question about the programme

Future Data Services team


Governance, management and panels

The review is conducted by the ESRC head office, working with a senior strategic fellow and a strategic fellow with input from data users, owners and managers in the ESRC community.

Oversight of the Future Data Services (FDS) programme of work is provided by a UKRI steering group, an external Programme Board with additional input from five thematic task and finish groups and a user panel.

Last updated: 8 August 2023

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.