The Administrative Data Research Network was an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 to July 2018. It is currently at the end of its funding cycle and is no longer taking applications. Administrative data research will be taken forward in a new project, to be launched later in 2018.

This archival website reflects the state of play at the end of the project in July 2018. All content has been frozen and may not be up to date.

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Supporting research

The ADS Research Support Team coordinated and maintained a metadata catalogue to give researchers an overview of available administrative data sets by theme.

The team administered the application process for projects that required UK wide and English data, and projects that required devolved and UK national data.

Research Support Officers responsibilities included:

  • explaining the service and assessing the initial research proposal for feasibility and its need to use administrative data
  • talking through their research concept, and the data they need
  • carrying out rigorous eligibility checks and making sure researchers have met all the necessary requirements – including specialist training – before they can have access to any data
  • advising researchers on data availability and the practicalities of linking the data they need
  • providing step by step support to turn research proposals into project applications, explaining the ADRN terms and conditions, including the requirement for an ethical review and an institutional guarantor
  • talking through the researcher journey and timeline to enable researchers to plan ahead
  • working with the researcher to make sure the Approvals Panel has all the information it needs to make a decision on the project
  • continuing to work with the researchers after project approval, during data negotiations, establishing the trusted third party de-identification and data linkage according to a project’s requirements and ensuring that the terms of the application have been met
  • once the analysis has been completed the Support Officer asks the researcher for a 2-page ‘plain English’ summary of the research findings and the potential public benefit

The team also dealt with any queries from research support staff at the ADRCs about Network procedures and processes. They collaborated with colleagues across the ADRN to help them manage any changes to research projects which arise.

Working with data providers

Research Support Officers negotiated with UK-wide and English data owners, discussing the data the researchers need, and building up detailed knowledge of how each provider works, and what data they share, so the ADRN could

  • give researchers the best possible guidance on their project – especially whether it was feasible, and what data they would be able to access
  • reassure data providers of the safety and security of our processes and the eligibility of ADRN researchers

To do this, the team had in-depth knowledge of:

  • the administrative data landscape
  • the laws on data acquisition and sharing, and linkage
  • data formats and types held by data providers
  • data security and secure access
  • academic research methods
  • ethical review
  • researcher accreditation
  • trusted third parties and the de-identification process
  • statistical disclosure control

Research support officers had significant knowledge and experience of research methods and analysis, and the legal status to data sharing.

Every case is different – the pathways to access healthcare data being different from those to benefits data, for example. The team’s understanding of data providers and their approaches helped to:

  • advise researchers on what is possible
  • work with providers professionally and successfully

Promoting ADRN services

Staff from the Research Support Team attended and presented at conferences to help researchers find out more about the Network and our applications process and the researcher journey. They have presented to academic institutions, ONS, data providers, charities, and international services which are the equivalent of the Network in other countries.


Page last updated: 04/07/2018