Improving access to Scottish data to support the Covid-19 effort

Understanding the nature of Scottish households plays a key role in decision making when it comes to tackling Covid-19.

The work of an Aberdeen PhD student has made this critical information more easily available to policymakers, charities and researchers and was shortlisted for a prestigious award.

Viktoria Eriksson, who is in the second year of a PhD in Sociology, has spent the last three months on placement with the Scottish Household Survey.

As part of her role she has developed a more user-friendly and accessible method of sharing survey data which usually requires expert skills to access.

The surveys include a wide range of household characteristics, factors for the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) and mapping of vulnerable groups.

Access to this information has proved particularly valuable during the Covid-19 crisis enabling policy makers, charities, activists and campaigners, without expert research skills, to access this otherwise complex survey data.

Viktoria, 26, said: “For my placement with the Scottish Household Survey I was asked to develop a more user-friendly and accessible method of sharing survey data.

“I brushed up on my R programming skills and, together with a software developer, developed the Data Explorer. Then I ran focus groups with a wide range of users to ensure that even school children could use the website. I also created an online tutorial to ensure that it would be easy for new users to learn how to use the website.”

The project was shortlisted for the SGSSS Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange Competition 2020 and has proved so successful that Victoria has been asked to stay on with the survey team part-time to further develop and promote the website.

She added: “It is exciting to think that the work I do has a real impact on how survey data is used and who can access it and I was delighted to be able to stay on to develop this further.

“It was great to apply my research skills on a new project that was different from the academic work I am used to. I learned so much about teamwork, communication to different audiences, and public engagement.

“I’m now looking forward to moving forward with the project and the next stages will involve taking it to the Q-step Academy in Glasgow to bring the Data Explorer into their classrooms for students to use the Scottish Household Survey data to learn and explore about Scotland.”

The Data Explorer is available at for anyone to explore the characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of Scottish households.