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Public policy aspects of linking & analysing government administrative data

Research Overview

This project will study the relationships between information and records management, open government and transparency and privacy and security; and it will investigate the appraisal of government administrative data for current business use and future research value.


Benefit

To inform policy and practice developments for ADRC-E and contribute to the wider debate about government information and data management


Datasets and name of the Government departments

No datasets will be required. This study is based on document review and interviews.


More about the project

This project draws on Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded research into freedom of information and public sector records management (Prof Shepherd), together with Dr Duke-Williams’s work on web-based access to geographic data and disclosure controls, then feeds into a multi-national research project InterPARES Trust, which has been investigating digital records, privacy and access, secrecy and transparency. The project will study the relationships between information and records management, open government transparency and privacy/security and the appraisal of government administrative data for current business use and future research value. All of these issues are being considered from the viewpoints of information professionals who provide or deny access, researchers seeking access to data and the citizens who are often the data subjects and on whose behalf data is created and preserved.

This study has taken a broadly qualitative approach to data collection. Following a scoping exercise, four thematic case studies were carried out (education, transport, energy, health) using multiple methods. The main data for the cases was collected by means of semi-structured interviews with data subjects, data creators, data providers and through researchers using government data. These were supplemented by detailed study of documentation, regulations, processes and by extensive literature reviews.

Given the key roles of ADRC-E (i.e. to provide wider access to existing administrative data resources and create new resources by linking two or more existing resources), this project will:

  • help to establish the requirements for information governance which ADRC-E should reflect in its national e-infrastructure policies and practices,
  • identify existing best practice in information and data management by means of subject case studies;
  • and report the analysis of:
    1. data quality and linkage legal and ethical issues;
    2. long term preservation and access to government data;
    3. ownership and policy responsibilities for government data created by multiple agencies;
    4. anonymity and the balance between the research benefits of data linkage with maintaining data subject privacy;
    5. embedding reliable provenance and other representations to ensure authenticity and reproducibility.

Research team

Prof Elizabeth Shepherd, ADRC-E and UCL 

Dr Oliver Duke-Williams, ADRC-E and UCL 

Dr Alexandra Eveleigh, UCL

Dr Anna Sexton, ADRC-E and UCL 


Further information and links

A balance of trust in the use of government administrative data, Archival Science, October 2017, p. 1-26


Page last updated: 24/10/2017