First of ten pivotal moments in the social sciences


Matthew Woollard, Director of the UK Data Service, discusses the Guardian’s celebration of the top ten pivotal social science moments in the last 50 years.

The Guardian has published a list of the top ten pivotal social science moments in the last 50 years. The first of these was the foundation of the SSRC Databank in 1967 at the University of Essex. The original organisation has evolved considerably since then, and the service funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK Data Service.

guardian 1

The lead partner of the UK Data Service is the UK Data Archive which is still a department within the University of Essex. Now we have a number of partners, including the University of Manchester, Jisc, the University of Southampton, the University of Leeds, the University of Edinburgh and University College London.

We’ve come a long way since 1967, but the original aim of providing a central point for researcher access to data remains. Part of the reason for the longevity of our services is that they provide a massive benefit to social science researchers, but also because we are able to innovate, and provide leadership in the growing international social science data service community.

guardian 2

We’ve very grateful to the Guardian and Claire Shaw for publicly recognising our impact on social science research in the last fifty years, and to the ESRC for providing 48 years of investment.


Some of the history of the first 40 years of the UK Data Archive can be found here:

If you’re new to the UK Data Service and you want to know more who we are and what we do, have a look at our website:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *