A Scotland-wide Data Linkage Framework for Statistics and Research: Consultation Paper on the Aims and Guiding Principles

The main purpose of this consultation is to seek views on the aims of the Data Linkage Framework and a draft set of guiding principles.

C: Questions & Answers for researchers and data users

Q Will this framework make it quicker and easier to access linked data for my research?
A Yes and No. The framework should help researchers gain access to data and to link it when there is a good argument to do so. It will in time make the permissions process easier to navigate, help researchers and others make sound decisions about whether to link data and if so how, and through improvements to data, analytical methods and technical expertise it will ease the technical difficulties of linkage and analysis. But every part of the process should be given due care and attention and should never be rushed.

Q Does this mean I don't have to go through my own organisations ethics committee anymore?
A No, individual organisation's ethics committees still have a very important role to play. The intention is that in time the Analytical Privacy Advisory Service will provide consistent and well-considered advice on data linkage, but not remove the need for organisations to carefully consider the ethics of data linkage themselves.

Q Scientific standards require that results be replicable, and it is often the case that following peer-review of academic work, re-analysis of data is required. This suggests that linked datasets may need to be held indefinitely. How long will the data linkage centre keep linked datasets for, and will other researchers be given access to them?
A Linked datasets will NOT be held indefinitely. The period for which they will be held will be considered on a case by case basis and will never be longer than is necessary. In line with the principle of transparency, information on how long each linked dataset will be held will be publicly available information. Other researchers may apply to access to the linked datasets, and their applications will be subject to the same scrutiny as the original investigator, and the same levels of security will be applied.


Email: Andrew Paterson

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