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The Administrative Data Research Network is an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 - 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.

A wide range of data expertise and thought leadership enables the ADRN to lead the way in using administrative data for social and economic research in the UK and worldwide.

> Hear the experts

Administrative Data Service (ADS)

Co-ordinated at the University of Essex, the ADS ensures the Network has a robust and secure infrastructure, processes, protocols and governance to maintain the highest standards and international best practice that ensure the protection of data privacy at all times. 

The ADS provides significant expertise and knowledge sharing with governments and other organisations across the world including Australia, Europe, South Korea and the U.S.A.  It advises governments on best practice around collating, managing, maintaining and using administrative data for research.  With significant expertise around data methodology, legislation, regulations, processes, privacy, security and ethics it has been advising the cabinet office in the drafting of the Digital Economy Act.

Responsible for coordinating the ADRN, the ADS also negotiates with data providers such as government departments and agencies to get data, and is the first point of contact for researchers who want to use the Network.  The Service provides support to all researchers applying to use it, including expert training and guidance

Based at the University of Essex, the ADS has partners at the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, the West of England, and Edinburgh.

The Administrative Data Service shares in the expertise of the UK Data Archive, the UK Data Service and its Secure Lab.


Administrative Data Research Centres

Based in each country across the UK, the research centres provide highly specialised social and economic research expertise that work in conjunction with the ADS to enable policy makers and government departments find new insights to complex challenges to improve people’s lives across the UK.

Legal expertise

The ADRN legal team provides expertise in data protection law, research governance and ethics. 

In ADRC Scotland, Professor Graeme Laurie and Leslie Stevens have examined the legal, ethical and practical barriers to accessing administrative data for research purposes and have worked to develop solutions to overcome these challenges. This has included their development of a decision-making tool to assist data controllers when considering whether to share administrative data and public interest mandate for culture change within the UK’s public sector. They continue to engage widely with the public sector. Their work and original research in this area contributes to the development of best practices in the governance of administrative data in the UK. 

In ADS, Professor Jane Kaye, Dr Jessica Bell, Dr Susan Wallace and Dr Heather Gowans have analysed the governance framework of the ADRN to inform and draft template documents for data acquisition in the ADRN, including a Memorandum of Understanding and Data Processing Agreement. These templates serve as a benchmark for partnership between the ADRN and data custodians, detailing the requirements and responsibilities of parties for legal and ethical data sharing. The team monitor and analyse the evolving legal landscape to identify the implications for the research use of administrative datasets for the Network. They provide on the ground support and best practice guidance to ADS User Services and ADRC’s; assisting with legal and regulatory issues relating to data access and data sharing in the UK. 

Page last updated: 22/06/2017