The ESRC-funded Administrative Data Liaison Service (ADLS) supports academic research and is the focal centre for knowledge, help and assistance with the major administrative datasets in the UK. Primarily the service provides information relating to:

  • the availability of the major administrative datasets in the UK
  • their suitability for specific research purposes
  • the procedures required to gain access to such data
  • the frameworks to be followed to use such data.

The ADLS is led by the University of St Andrews together with colleagues from the University of Oxford and Manchester.

What is administrative data?

Administrative data is information that is routinely collected by organisations as part of their business or operational activities. It is not primarily generated as research resources. It covers a wide variety of fields in both the private and public sector including education, health, welfare and taxation.

Administrative data in the UK is extensive, but remains relatively undiscovered and underused. It has an enormous potential to inform social scientific research, either directly through analysis of such data or through linkage to other datasets. Potentially, research findings could also offer cost efficiencies and other benefits to data-holding organisations.

What are the main objectives of ADLS?

ADLS works in tandem with both researchers and data-holding organisations to ensure that:

  • researchers understand and comply with stringent legal, ethical and security frameworks needed to apply for, access and link with administrative datasets
  • data-holding organisations have a greater awareness of the potential of their administrative datasets
  • the access, use and quality of administrative datasets are improved. Over time, the ADLS will seek to achieve this by raising awareness within the academic community and promoting academic research with data-holding organisations and other key stakeholders.

Please note that the ADLS does not hold or store administrative data itself but acts as an intermediary between researchers and data-holding organisations.