open menu

Thematic Partnerships


The ADRN was originally established to negotiate research access to administrative data on a bespoke basis for individual ADRN approved research projects.

To provide greater value for money and enable Government departments to provide data more effectively and efficiently for research, the ADRN are now working with partner organisations across Government departments, research organisations and academia to create and curate a number of substantial, complex, persistent, and stable datasets, each of which will support the work of a theme of social and economic research.  Over time, these datasets will grow to satisfy as many research and statistical inquiries as possible.    

The way forward

The ADRN has put together four Partnerships to deliver data that supports research in four Themes.  Each Partnership is made up of the relevant government departments, What Works Centres, and research organisations.  An ADRN Director leads every partnership to ensure the research community is represented, and is chaired by a person with a significant public profile.  The role of the Partnership is to identify the key objectives of its data Theme (i.e., important social and economic issues that can benefit from evidence based research), then agree a Data Design Proposal to commission the construction of relevant a dataset.  By agreeing to the objectives and to the Design Proposal, government departments and other partners are committing to the supply, linking, documenting, and functional anonymisation of their data, to create a new research data source. 

Partnership decision making and direction

The Partners work together to consider research needs (based on research interest shown to the ADRN and the ESRC priority research areas) and data availability under the data theme for which they are responsible. All Partnership group decisions are made by consensus which is vital to providing surety of data provision.  It is the role of the Chair to bring the Partnership to consensus decisions.

Thematic Partnerships

The Partnerships are focusing on developing datasets around the following four data themes:

As we develop the new model, we will update our section on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), particularly those posed by current and potential ADRN Researchers.

  1. When will the thematic datasets be ready for me to use? Each partnership’s objective is to form a dataset that can be used in the short term and is designed to be enhanced in the future by adding administrative data. At the moment, this process is in development but we will publicise the data’s availability as soon as we are able to offer access to accredited ADRN researchers whose projects are in line with the theme.
  2. Where will I be able to access the datasets? We are aiming to make the new datasets easily accessible going forward, in order to increase the amount of research that can be undertaken. Datasets will be made available for access through our secure access points at ADRN Centres, subject to practicalities and any data custodian restrictions. We have further general information regarding our secure environments here.
  3. Will the application process change under the new model? We expect that applications to use these data for research projects will follow a similar application process to the one the ADRN currently uses and our aim is to provide a single approvals process for all applications. However, the process may be affected by the implementation of the Digital Economy Act (DEA) and we will update this webpage as and when we have more information.
  4. Will the new model really be better? We believe that by developing these datasets we will increase the quality and amount of research using administrative data going forward thereby increasing the potential benefits of research using administrative data and using the resources economically. Whilst bespoke datasets cannot be created on an individual research project basis; timescales, data access and certainty will increase, benefiting researchers.
  5. Can I put my project forward for prioritisation within a data theme? At present we are developing datasets through partnership with data custodians and other partners. In the future we will analyse the success of this approach.  We encourage partners to consider research questions already lodged with the Network – if you have a research question, do feel free to contact us
  6. Can I become involved in the theme to which my project has been allocated? Individual researchers are not eligible to be involved in theme development, however, we will publicise data availability as soon as we are able, see point 1, above, “When will the thematic datasets be ready for me to use?”.  If you are a representative of an organisation that may be interested in contributing data, please contact us. We are happy to receive feedback from you if you feel you can contribute to the development of datasets.
  7. You’ve emailed me to say my project has been allocated to a theme, but I’m getting close to renewing an aspect of my project – will I hear before then? We will keep the website up to date and recommend that you check back on a regular basis. We will contact you, individually, when we have news that may relate to your project.  If you are very close to a deadline, please contact the relevant Theme Leader for further support.
  8. Also, will you support any request for an extension to a research grant or other time reliant process? Do you have a standard letter for this? If you have previously received an ADRN letter of support, please contact us. We are currently unable to issue new letters.  

Page last updated: 18/12/2017