Secondary Datasets Training

The SWDTP team works to co-ordinate further training activities and resources to support our PGR communities undertaking research involving secondary data. See below for further events and training opportunities.

Working with Secondary Datasets: Students Tips and Advice

A number of PGRs using secondary datasets were kind enough to share their journey and experience in using this data in their research. Although coming from multiple pathways and very different areas of expertise, a handful of issues were consistently raised in using secondary datasets. Watch the videos below to hear their tips and click on their names to be taken to their student profiles.


Using the Understanding Society study for longitudinal research on individuals and households in the UK – 23 November 2021, 11am-12pm

Alexey Bessudnov (Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Exeter) will share top tips on getting started with Understanding Society in your PhD/MReS research.

Funded by ESRC, Understanding Society is the largest longitudinal study of its kind. It provides crucial information for researchers and policymakers on the changes and stability of people’s lives in the UK on a wide variety of topics.

As with most other longitudinal household surveys, the structure and documentation of the Understanding Society are quite complex. Sometimes this may seem as an obstacle for researchers who are just starting to use the data. Alexey provided top tips on how the Understanding Society files are structured and how they can be linked and reshaped, demonstrated how to work with the Understanding Society files in R, and suggested possible questions that could be posed by researchers using Understanding Society.

Secondary analysis of cross-national, comparative survey data webinar – 7 July 2021

This workshop covered secondary analysis of cross-national, comparative survey data. You can write an original, successful PhD thesis using existing cross-national survey data such as the European Social Survey or the World Values Survey. In addition to introducing the wealth of data available across the globe, Professor Susan Banducci will introduce some examples of published research and discuss strategies on how to add value to and gain new insight from these rich data sources.

  • The format included a webinar followed by a Q&A
  • Workshop materials were distributed in advance which you can download below:

Considerations for engaging in open research and secondary analysis of qualitative data – 13 April 2021

  • If you weren’t able to attend,  a recording of the session will be made available here

Accessing Administrative and Sensitive Datasets through SafePods Webinar – 16th March 2021

  • This webinar explored what SafePods can provide researchers, research projects that have used SafePods and practical guidance for using SafePods. This webinar was co-ordinated by the SWDTP, with contributions from SafePod technical leads and academics across the partnership and was open to researchers at all stages including undergraduates, postgraduates and academics.
  • The installation of SafePods have now been completed at the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter and this webinar provided information about the opportunities SafePods will bring, and the practical steps you will need to follow to use them.
  • You can see more about the event here

About the SafePod Network

The SafePod Network (SPN) is a new investment from the Economic and Social Research Council to provide an independent network of safe settings (known as SafePods®) that will provide the secure facilities and services for researchers to remotely access datasets from participating Data Centres across the UK.

For researchers, the major benefit of SafePods is that they will be able to have local access to their project datasets, without the need for long distance travel to a dedicated safe setting provided by a Data Centre.

A wealth of government datasets, as well as study and survey datasets will be available for secure access from SafePods. This will include new linked datasets created by Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) projects, such as the groundbreaking Data First programme at the Ministry of Justice, and most datasets held by the Office for National Statistics’ Secure Research Service, the UK Data Service and SAIL Databank.

Many researchers across South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP) Universities are already working with the types of administrative and/or sensitive datasets that will be made available through SafePods, and interest in these is now further increasing due to the pandemic.

Additional Materials

You can watch the webinar via the YouTube video, or, click here to access the PowerPoint presentation.