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ONS & ADRC-E: A collaboration written in the stars

Written by Lucy Tinkler from the Office for National Statistics

I started working as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) ADRC-E Co-ordinator just over a year ago, and have been lucky to have collaborated closely with ADRC-E partners from the University of Southampton, and the Bloomsbury group of universities. It has been very gratifying to be part of a partnership delivering a service to researchers which involves accessing and linking de-identified government administrative sources for the public good. Both the perspectives of academics and government departments are represented in this partnership, which is vital for its success.

Part of my job is to co-ordinate the key services which ONS bring to the partnership, including the expertise and experience of trusted third party data linkage, as well as a wealth of experience of enabling researchers to access de-identified data-sets in the ONS Virtual Microdata Laboratory (VML) safe setting.

Some of the research highlights from this collaboration include a project involving the University of Southampton, which uses ONS survey and Census data to investigate non response and successful interviewer re-call rates. The research was carried out by researchers from the University of Southampton in consultation with ONS survey experts, and will be of valuable use to ONS and beyond.

I hold monthly meetings with our partners to progress research projects which are of benefit to the network. Some key examples of these collaborative projects are work to link ONS business surveys with the Census to investigate industry and workplace data, and a project to investigate if we can link the ONS Labour Force Survey with health data to look at characteristics such as employment, education and health. It is great to collaborate with our academic partners on these projects; we learn from each other and share expertise in different areas of research and data sources.

As well as collaboration in research, there is also collaboration in terms of expertise to develop skills and capability throughout the network. For example, the ONS Data Accreditor recently assured the University of Southampton safe setting to hold de-identified ONS survey data, and the ONS VML team have provided shadowing and training for ADRC-E data scientists.

I’m also keen to promote the ADRN across government. This includes liaising with ADRC-E researchers to arrange research presentations for government audiences, writing articles for government analyst newsletters, and making sure the ADRC-E is represented at annual seminars of the government analytic professions.

All in all, the ADRC-E partnership has provided momentum which has given impetus to projects, given life to new ideas and enabled the flow of critical information. It has helped all organisations develop infrastructure and skills with greater ease than would have been the case if they were acting alone. It has allowed all organisations to make long-lasting connections and develop a new network of contacts which we can successfully draw on this partnership and in many other spheres of our work. Data is essential to informing decisions. This partnership and the research resulting from it will help to widen the evidence base for informed decision making that affects all our lives.


Written by Lucy Tinkler, ADRC-E Coordinator for the Office for National Statistics and published on the ADRN blog under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Published on 14 December 2016


Page last updated: 18/04/2017