The Scottish Government Statistics Group wants to make it easier for you to access the data that you need; whether that be through formatted tables available on our statistics topic pages, or secure access to the various microdata that underlies those statistics.
All official statistics produced by Scottish Government are freely available under the Open Government Licence (OGL).
Accessing the statistics that we publish in our bulletins
The Statistics Group publishes its official statistics in over one hundred bulletins each year, most of which have National Statistics designation. We aim to publish these statistics in as much detail as is reliable and practical to encourage analysis and re-use by others. You will find that most bulletins are supported by a series of downloads in spreadsheet format – and where possible these will be in open formats; this mean that you won’t need particular software or packages to open them. These downloads will usually contain the statistics that are used to produce the charts and tables in each bulletin, but will regularly contain further breakdowns and analysis that you might find useful. You can browse the range of statistics we produce on our topic pages.
Background data that are used to produce our statistics
We have included information about how we make, or can make, our data available alongside our reports. We have done this to increase awareness about what data we have in every Statistical Bulletin, Social Research Findings, or other analytical publication.
A lot of our data, particularly data that is available at lower geographic levels such as Data Zones, will be made available through our new open data platform - statistics.gov.scot; this site allows you to explore statistics about our population, health, employment, crime and more for Scotland and it's local areas.
You may also be interested in additional analysis that can be requested from the relevant statistics teams – you’ll find the contact details at the back of each bulletin or on our contacts page. We're aiming to put more of this data on our open data platform to improve the access to our data.
Data Access Agreements
In some circumstances - primarily for statistical analysis and research - you might want access to more detailed information than would usually be published; this has to be done through a formal arrangement with the relevant statistics teams. You should be aware this data may be subject to certain restrictions, but this will be agreed with you before any information is shared by us.
You will need to complete a data access form (below) in order to seek data held by us. The application form should be completed by the individual who is requesting the data. You should contact the relevant statistics teams if you need help completing any part of the form. The relevant team’s Branch Head will review all completed applications and conduct a risk-assessment using a scoring matrix, which we've provided alongside the form for information.
Your request will usually be considered by the relevant statistician, but more complex requests may need to be reviewed by our Data Access Panel. On submitting an application you will be informed as to whether your request is required to be considered by the Data Access Panel. A decision will be taken on whether to support the application, seek further information or advise against the request.
Access will only be agreed where is it clear that: the Scottish Government has the right to share data; where the use of the information is considered consistent with the original purposes for collecting the data; where no individuals will be publicly identified as a result of the analyses; and, where appropriate safeguards and checks are in place to ensure the security of the data throughout its exchange and use.
Some topic areas such as Education have a separate (but similar) process for assessing data requests; more information on accessing datasets about education can be found here. If you're in doubt about who to contact, or which route to use, then please do get in touch with our central statistics team on 0300 244 0 442 (email@example.com).
The application form is in provided in a Word Document that can be edited, but please get in touch if you require any additional formats.
Statement of Administrative Sources
Official statistics published by the Scottish Government are based on two main sources – data gathered from statistical (censuses and) surveys, and data extracted from its own and from other organisations’ administrative or management systems.
By using data which is already available within administrative or management systems, rather than collecting data afresh, we are able to limit the overall burden placed on data providers, and also avoid the costs of mounting dedicated data collection exercises. In addition, the information we extract from such systems often has the advantage of being more timely than statistical data and, when compared with data from surveys (and particularly sample surveys), can also deliver data with a greater breadth of coverage.
The UK Statistics Authority actively encourages public bodies to exploit administrative and management sources for statistical purposes. However the Authority recognises that the statistical advantages of such arrangements can only be fully realised if statisticians have appropriate access to such systems; if statistical purposes are reflected in the design, management, and development of such systems; and if adequate safeguards are put in place to ensure the professional integrity of any official statistics derived from them.
The Authority‘s main requirements are set out in the third Protocol attached to their Code of Practice for Official Statistics. Amongst other things, this Protocol requires all producers of official statistics to publish, in consultation with the National Statistician, a ‘Statement of Administrative Sources’ which lists:
- the administrative systems they currently use to produce official statistics;
- Information about other administrative sources that are not currently used for statistical purposes but which have the potential to be so used;
- the arrangements they have put in place to provide statistical staff with appropriate access such sources; to take account of changes to such systems; to audit the quality of the administrative data used for statistical purposes; and to ensure the security of the resultant statistical processes.