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 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 informed the ESRC and ONS strategies as well as former ESRC investment the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) and its successor Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK).

Aims of the dialogue

The dialogues initially 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 for the ADRN and provide data on public attitudes for the ADRN to inform its future strategies and priorities for public engagement
  • provide ONS with more detailed evidence on public views of their 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.

The findings of the dialogues now continue to inform the strategies and operational procedures for ADR UK, the ADRN’s successor and ongoing ESRC investment.

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 UK (ADR UK)

Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) is an ESRC investment and UK-wide partnership transforming the way researchers access the country’s wealth of public sector data, to enable better informed policy decisions that improve lives. You can find out more on the ADR UK website. ADR UK is the successor to the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN).