Publication - Minutes

Research Data Scotland (RDS) Transition Board minutes: December 2020

Published: 12 Jan 2021
Digital Directorate
Part of:
Economy, Public sector
Date of meeting: 16 Dec 2020
Date of next meeting: 3 Feb 2021

Minutes of the Research Data Scotland (RDS) Transition Board held on 16 December 2020.

12 Jan 2021
Research Data Scotland (RDS) Transition Board minutes: December 2020

Attendees and apologies


  • Roger Halliday - Chair
  • Nicola Kerr
  • Carole Morris
  • Mark Parsons 
  • Jill Pell
  • Alan Ferrier
  • Alessia Morris
  • Angela Daly
  • Albert King
  • Chris Dibben
  • Emily Jefferson
  • Phil Couser
  • Neil Rawlins – minute taker


  • Corri Black
  • Pete Whitehouse
  • Carol Sinclair

Items and actions

Summary of actions arising

  • work to continue on developing IG proposals and be bought back to the Board - AM/CD
  • policy steer on engagement with industry to be sought from government - RH
  • the role of industry and RDS to be bought back to the Board early next year - RH
  • ToM to be amended to reflect MP’s comments - AM

Meeting minutes 

Welcome and introductions

Previous minutes and actions - (papers A and B)

Update on progress and actions from the previous meeting.

Progress reports - paper C to Paper K (to note)

Comment and updates on the papers circulated previously. The OBC will shortly be presented to ministers and the FBC will be submitted to the next Board meeting. Comms will remain low key until there is a RDS service offering is further developed and articulated, a task for the first half of 2021. Work is underway on the format of RDS data catalogue. It was raised how RDS metadata would be linked to wider metadata developments, including UK data / ADR-UK and how would data be presented to researchers. It was noted that whilst there was a need for more immediate development work on metadata to enable access to early data sets, approach to metadata required more long term work, including ADR-UK.

Information Governance (IG) working group update - paper L 

Background information on the paper and the proposed two pathways was given. It was outlined that pathway one would incorporate administration efficiencies over six months to a year and pathway two was a longer term ambition which would require investment and resources. It was noted that the current IG system doesn’t work and that the proposals in the paper were proportionate and balanced. It was asked what external feedback regarding the project had been received and it was noted that this approach was being co-developed with the SG lawyers, views from the ICO would also be sought and soundings were being taken from PHS/eDRIS/NRS/NHS with a plan to reach out at a later date as it progresses. It was raised that there was a legal question around the proposed approach to functional anonymization under pathway two. It was noted that a range of measures would help manage the risks around the proposed IG solutions and that a realistic appraisal of residual risks were key to success. It was raised that streamlined governance is required, with a menu tick box for approval of low risk / proportionate risk. It was noted that this was a priority for 2021 and should be bought back to the Board


  • work to continue on developing IG proposals and be bought back to the Board

TOM and priorities for 2021 – paper M

The ToM shared previously was introduced. It was noted that the priority for 2021 was the setting up of the RDS organisation, widening the data offering and widening the service offering and comments were invited. It was noted that further details were required on delineation of data acquisition between RDS and eDRIS. RDS would strengthen eDRIS’ role, the eDRIS’ brand would not disappear but it would bring skills and expertise to RDS. RDS would bring together Scotland wide talents by leveraging the resources and expertise from service delivery partners. It was noted the benefit of RDS working across teams and organisational boundaries and avoiding silo’d services and that incremental benefits should evolve fairly rapidly next year. The group observed that the operating model as described in the TOM is sound, but pragmatic activities to connect, build upon, accelerate and stand up the RDS service in 2021 were also necessary. The issue of working with industry was also raised, including the need to display more ambition in this space. There was a broad consensus that RDS needed to do some more thinking in this area. It was noted that in order to gain public support for industry involvement a clear steer from government was required. It was suggested a need for an industrial data policy team to explore and provide more thinking in this field and articulate this in documents. There was already a very clear steer to support industry using the Safe Haven environment, but if RDS could provide clear policy guidance that would be very helpful. It was noted that working with industry needs to be part of the work to be undertaken by RDS in 2021. 


  • policy steer on engagement with industry to be sought from government
  • the role of industry and RDS to be bought back to the Board early next year
  • ToM to be amended to reflect MP’s comments

The Finance and Comms papers were introduced and comment invited. It was noted that regarding Comms, at some point there would be a need for separation between the Engagement and Comms work streams. There should be plans for a more formal RDS launch next year. To support partner collaboration a Q&A and set of slides are available for partners to use.

Legal Working Group update – paper N

There was an update on the legal group. RDS is a legal company and in the process of registering as a charity, the nomination of the initial three trustees has been sought. There is now more clarity about the role of PHS within RDS and more recent legal views had allayed any concerns around PHS participation in RDS. It was noted that PHS were keen to be an active partner and will go to PHS Board in early February for the formal sign off of RDS membership. It was noted that more information about whether and which RDS transaction will attract VAT is expected shortly.

Date of next meeting and close 

Next meeting 3 February at 11am.