The Research Information Network has released Data Centres: Their Use, Value and Impact.
Here's an excerpt:
In recent years, the value of data as a primary research output has begun to be increasingly recognised. New technology has made it possible to create, store and reuse datasets, either for new analysis or for combination with other data in order to answer different questions. In the UK, academic researchers, funders and institutions have responded to these possibilities by supporting a number of data centres' organisations with responsibility for supplying research data to the academic community, and in some cases for collecting, storing and curating such data as well. . . .
This study sought to understand usage of UK data centres among researchers, and to examine the impact of such use upon their work. We undertook a series of initial interviews with research funders to understand the role and importance of data and data centres within various academic fields, followed by a survey of the users of five data centres. Finally, through the interviews and surveys, a set of case studies was identified where the data centre had benefited a researcher's work, and in some cases that work had gone on to have an impact in wider society.