In 2013, we collaborated with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to run a series of public dialogues across the UK to understand better how people view using and linking administrative data for research.

The dialogues, run by Ipsos MORI, comprised of events in Manchester, London, Stirling, Cardiff, Wrexham, King’s Lynn and Belfast. During the two day-long sessions, participants - recruited from a cross-section of people - worked with trained facilitators and experts to discuss the challenges of linking administrative data for research purposes.

The new dialogues explored attitudes around the re-use of sensitive data, mandatory and voluntary data collection and long-term data storage and data linking, and, specifically, examined the re-use of public data for research purposes. These dialogues have started to inform the ESRC and ONS strategies and also the Administrative Data Research Centres (ADRCs) and Administrative Data Service.

Aims of the dialogue

The dialogues aimed to:

  • better understand people’s views on the linking of administrative data
  • begin the process of creating a terminology describing the re-use of administrative data and data linking that is understandable to the general public
  • help inform the development of the governance and operational procedures that ADRCs will adopt and provide data on public attitudes for ADRCs to inform their future strategies and priorities for public engagement
  • provide ONS with more detailed evidence on public views of their current front-running approaches for Beyond 2011 (provided as a separate report - see below).

The project was directed by a steering group including researchers from Loughborough and Edinburgh universities, members of ESRC's Methods and Infrastructure committee, and representatives from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Wellcome Trust, and Sciencewise.

Summaries of the findings

As part of the dialogues the ONS explored public views of their approaches for their Beyond 2011 programme.

Administrative Data Research Network

The Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) is a partnership between government departments, research funders, national statistical authorities, and the research community that enables research using linked, routinely collected administrative data.

Find out more about ADRN in this animated video.