Data, Skills and Training

Background information

This research group focuses on developing a research agenda around data, skills and training, with a particular emphasis on statistical and data literacy. The group covers the following activities, all based at the Cathie Marsh Institute (CMI): CMI short courses, methods@manchester, National Centre for Research Methods, Q-Step, and UK Data Service user support and training.

Events and activities

Upcoming events

See events by:

Past events

Cross-study research: Opportunities, challenges and examples
16 October 2018, University of Manchester
The aim of this workshop is to provide an overview of the opportunities and challenges inherent in cross-study research, with a particular focus on data harmonisation. The workshop is provided by CLOSER and hosted by the Data, Skills and Training Research Group in the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research.
Speaker: Professor Rebecca Hardy

Longitudinal resources for teaching and research: an Introduction to CLOSER
14 September 2017, University of Manchester
Hosted by the University of Manchester Q-Step Centre and the Data Skills and Training Research Group, Cathie Marsh Institute, and facilitated by Professor Alison Park, CLOSER

Getting money out of the ESRC’s secondary data analysis fund
26 January 2017, Mansfield Cooper, University of Manchester
Tina Haux, from the University Kent, is a member of the ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative Panel and talked about the general criteria of the Initiative, the eligible data sources, how to navigate some of the criteria and introduce examples of projects that have been funded in the past.

Big data skills in the social sciences
14 October 2016, Arthur Lewis Building, University of Manchester

Seminar: Teaching statistics to non-statisticians
27 September 2016, Humanities Bridgeford Street, University of Manchester
A socio-public health data-based introductory statistics course, Professor Murray Aitkin, The University of Melbourne
Statistics anxiety: Pedagogical problem or convenient excuse?, Professor John MacInnes, University of Edinburgh

Consumer data for big data research: An introduction to data, services and research from the Consumer Data Research Centre
12 July 2016, Alan Turing Building, University of Manchester

Selected projects and grants

UK Data Service

The UK Data Service is a comprehensive resource funded by the ESRC to support researchers, teachers and policymakers who depend on high-quality social and economic data. Here you will find a single point of access to a wide range of secondary data including large-scale government surveys, international macro data, business microdata, qualitative studies and census data from 1971 to 2011. All are backed with extensive support, training and guidance to meet the needs of data users, owners and creators. The CMI team provide expertise on government surveys, census microdata, and user support and training.

Manchester Q-Step Centre

Q-Step is a £19.5 million programme designed to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training. The Manchester Q-Step Centre is undertaking a range of activities to support the development of quantitative skills on our undergraduate social science programmes. These include a range of new courses, dissertation support and a nationally recognised programme of summer internships. We place up to 50 students a year with a wide range of organisations, working on projects designed to develop and practice quantitative data skills in a real research setting

Over a five-year period from 2013, fifteen universities across the UK are delivering specialist undergraduate programmes, including new courses, work placements and internships, and pathways to postgraduate study. Expertise and resources will be shared across the higher education sector through an accompanying support programme, which will also forge links with schools and employers.

A news story about one of the previous Q-Step interns, demonstrating the value placed by employers on quantitative skills, features on the University website. Short promotional films are available on the Q-Step website on the Students’ Stories page.


In 2004 the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) set up the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) at the University of Southampton. NCRM was tasked to increase the quality and range of methodological approaches used by UK social scientists through a programme of training and capacity building, and with driving forward methodological development and innovation through its own research programme. From October 2014 the NCRM formed a partnership between The University of Edinburgh and The University of Manchester, both of which have international reputations in methodological research and training in the social sciences.


methods@manchester is an initiative that highlights Manchester's strength in research methods in the social sciences. We run ‘What is..?’ and ‘How to…?' events, a postgraduate Methods Fair every November, and a Summer School. We are increasingly engaging with external organisations who undertake data analysis.

CMI short courses

We run training courses, from 1-3 days, to support researchers and practitioners to undertake quantitative data analysis. More information can be found on our events pages.

CHERIL project: £18,500
Project title: Summer internships – what works? Evidencing the impact of undergraduate quantitative skills from The University of Manchester Q-Step Centre’s pilot year 

ESRC IAA Project
Project title: Short films, big impact: bringing research to life through storytelling