Public engagement refers to a range of participatory activities through which the citizen may be involved with the research process. To be truly effective it must be a two-way process and includes raising awareness, consultation and empowerment activities.
The Administrative Data Taskforce highlighted that:
"Public support for and confidence in the research use of administrative data can only develop if there is clarity about the purpose of the research, the data to be processed and the safeguards that will be in place to prevent any abuse of such data."
Administrative Data Taskforce, 2012
The ADRN ensures public engagement is at the heart of everything it does. From the protection of privacy and access to secure data, to the development of policies and procedures; approving projects to articulating potential public benefits in plain English as a compulsory output of every research project.
Public education and information provision about the need for research based on administrative data is important if there is to be a greater acceptance or legitimacy for use of administrative data for research. The Talk Big Data event series hosted at the University of Essex started to raise awareness of the public benefits and challenges faced in using administrative data for research and may be taken across the UK for wider engagement. The Communications and Public Engagement team work hard to ensure the public are made aware of the work happening across the ADRN and potential public benefits from the research. The Public Engagement Task team ensures that public engagement forms a significant part of the research undertaken across the ADRN.
To gain insight into public opinion on the use of administrative data for research, the ADRN has worked with Ipsos Mori and other focus groups.
There are active Citizens' panels established across the Network that provide a public perspective on sharing data for research or aspects of it such as changes in a particular policy area. Lay members of the public sit on the ADRN board and Approvals panel to provide a public voice and ensure public benefits of every research project that apply to use the ADRN are adequately considered in the applications.