Vanessa Higgins

Vanessa Higgins

Dr, Dr

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Personal profile


Data Skills Training

I am the Director of User Support and Training for the UK Data Service. I lead the UK Data Service programme of training events, web-based training resources and online help for researchers and teachers using the quantitative and qualitative data hosted by the UK Data Service.

I am Co-investigator on the EmpoderaData project which aims to increase data literacy skills in Latin America. I am Principle Investigator for CESSDA Training which provides data skills training for social science reseachers across Europe. 

I am also a Dissertation Module lecturer on the MSc Social Research Methods and Statistics within the department of Social Statistics and, for several years, I led the Data, Skills and Training Research Group within the Cathie Marsh Institute. In previous years, I have also held the following teaching roles:

  • Lecturer: Unequal Societies, a first year undergraduate module on using data to explore health inequalities
  • Dissertation Supervisor: MSc Social Research Methods and Statistics 


My two research interests are (1) health inequalities, and (2) data literacy skills. I have held research roles within academia, central government and the voluntary sector. Throughout my research career I have specialised in in the field of health-inequalities. I have experience of quantitative and qualitative research and primary data collection and secondary analysis of data. Before joining the Cathie Marsh Institute I worked at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as a survey researcher on large-scale national surveys such as the Children's Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Survey and the Family Resources Survey.

Other activity 

  • PhD examiner (internal and examiner) 
  • Editorial Board Member: Research Data Journal for the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Advisory Board Member: National Centre for Research Methods  
  • Advisory Board Member: Methods@Manchester 
  • Task & Finish Group Member: Administrative Data Research UK Training
  • Peer review activities for variety of journals

Membership of Professional Associations:

  • European Survey Research Association
  • Social Research Association 
  • British Sociological Association
  • International Association for Social Science Information Service & Technology
  • Society for Social Medicine & Population Health
  • Royal Statistical Society 
  • International Statistical Institute
  • Institute for the Association of Statistical Education 

Other research


2021-2022 CESSDA Training. Funded by Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (PI)

2018-2020 Data Discovery & Research Data Management training. Funded by Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (PI)

2019 EmpoderaData fostering data literacy skills in Latin America. Funded by UK Research Innovation, Global Challenges Research Fund Research Partnership Development Award  (Co-I) 

2018-2019 Data Skills for Development Data: Creating a Network for an ODA Hub. Funded by University of Manchester, Faculty of Humanities Strategic Investment Fund: Internationalisation (PI)

2016-2017 Data Discovery Training Needs Analysis in Europe. Funded by Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (PI)

2012 Preparing Methodbox for National Service (Co-I)

2008-2009 Ethnic differences in obesity, diet and physical activity. Funded by Economic and Social Research Council (PI)

2007-2012 Economic and Social Data Service: Added value of large scale government datasets. Funded by Economic and Social Research Council (Co-I)

2007-2008 Increasing the use of large scale social surveys in undergraduate dissertations in the Social Science: A pilot project. Funded by Economic and Social Research Council (Co-I)


Social responsibility

Specific research interests:

Keywords: Survey Research; Health and lifestyle, Ethnicity, Obesity, Diet, Physical Activity.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures
  • Cathie Marsh Institute


  • Survey Research
  • Health and lifestyle
  • Ethnicity
  • Obesity
  • Diet
  • Physical Activity


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