National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Security and Governance of the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS)

Security and Governance of the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS)

Confidentiality and security

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) encourage wide use of SLS in order to maximise the benefits we can provide to the public through research. At the same time we are firmly committed to protecting the confidentiality of data about individuals.

SLS records made available for analysis are de-identified, individual-level data that have not been aggregated or disguised.  Maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of all SLS Members is of utmost importance. Access to SLS is provided under strictly governed conditions to ensure that the information cannot fall into the wrong hands.

A range of measures are taken to ensure confidentiality;

  • The data are held only at the NRS, Ladywell House site in Edinburgh.
  • Data can only be accessed in a single safe-setting room using stand-alone computers.
  • Safe setting computers are not connected to the internet and all ports have been disabled.
  • Researchers are supervised in the safe setting.
  • Remote data access is not possible.
  • Researchers must have all outputs disclosure checked before they can be removed from the safe setting.
  • Only aggregated data outputs are released to SLS researchers such as tabulations and model results (e.g. regression coefficients).
  • Output files are always emailed in encrypted format.
  • Prior to data access, all SLS users are briefed about confidentiality and security protocols and required to sign both a Census Confidentiality and an SLS Undertaking Form to show that they agree to abide by them. 

Governance of SLS

Steering Committee
The steering committee is responsible for data protection, confidentiality and security issues for the Scottish Longitudinal Study and includes representatives from the Longitudinal Studies Centre Scotland (LSCS), the National Records of Scotland, the Office for National Statistics, the National Health Service Central Register, the Information Statistics Division of the NHS and the Education Department of the Scottish Government.

SLS Research Board
The Research Board is responsible for assessing applications to use SLS. All project proposals are considered by the SLS Research Board and are assessed against a strict set of criteria. It includes representatives from the main data providers and the SLS team, as well as an independent academic advisor.

Full details of SLS governance can be found in the SLS website.


The SLS is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the National Records of Scotland. It is a joint project of the National Records of Scotland and University of Edinburgh.