The shortage of Grid-enabled datasets is one important obstacle to more widespread take-up of e-Science methodologies in the social sciences. The meaning of 'Grid-enabled datasets' was discussed in Unit 3 and, in a nutshell, refers to the modifications that must be made to those datasets to ensure that any user with proper Grid credentials (authentication and authorisation) can access the datasets without having to enter separate passwords each time.
However, there is some positive news about the accessibility of data. In the UK, data for academic use is centralised into a small number of national data centres (e.g. MIMAS, Edina). Also, the ESRC has centralised social science data to a certain extent (not including the UK census data), providing access through a single portal.
The Samples of Anonymised Records (SARS) is Grid-enabled. SARS are sets of microdata sampled from the Census - a 'unique data source for the investigation of a range of social issues including household composition, ethnic differences, education and employment'. They can be processed using Grid-enabled tools. Source: http://www.ccsr.ac.uk/sars/access/grid/
To summarise some of the current obstacles: