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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.

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:

The World of Work Partnership focuses on developing a linked dataset with emphasis on the labour market experience.

Scope and purpose

The World of Work Theme focuses on the labour market experience of those in, and out, of work.  The Theme Partners have identified the importance of a better understanding of the “gig economy” as a priority.  To that end, the Theme will explore the creation of an “indices of employment quality”, to be derived and used in the manner of the ‘Indices of Multiple Deprivation’.  This work will contribute to the work of the Taylor Review on Modern Employment Practices.  The Partnership has also identified the need for information that has the qualities of Labour Force Survey outputs but with robustness in particular small areas of interest, such as the Local Enterprise Partnerships and Enterprise Zones, or the Northern Powerhouse cities.


The World of Work Partnership will agree objectives at each of its Partner meetings.  At the first meeting, is was proposed "To utilise small-area indices to map a new measure of employment quality, modelled on the functionality of the ‘Indices of Multiple Deprivation’, in particular to better understand the casualisation of  employment and the growth of the so-called 'gig economy'".  This objective is subject to agreement once its feasibility has been explored and reported to partners.

Such a dataset(s) would become a building block for future enhancement, with other administrative records of employment being added in accordance with the direction of the Theme Partners' understanding of research and policy evidence needs.

The process we follow from agreement of objective through to use 

There are two main approaches to the use of administrative data to enhance research and to fill evidence gaps for themes:

  1. we will seek to enhance existing longitudinal and cohort studies by assisting them in the acquisition of administrative data relating to the members of those studies, and
  2. we will create new study datasets, and curate them to provide a data resource that can form the foundation of new scientific research and respond to policy evidence inquiries.

Work currently underway

Initial scoping and partnership development.

Partnership Meetings

The first meeting was held on 21 September 2017 and was attended by representatives from invited Partner organisations. The agenda asked Partners for their views on the key social and economic issues faced by those engaged in The World of Work, what insights are needed to better understand those issues, and therefore what administrative data should be prepared and used to support the necessary scientific research and provide the information for the targeted insights.


The meeting was chaired by Dr David Halpern, Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team and Board Director, Cabinet Office.

Theme leader

This theme is led by Professor Chris Dibben, Director of the Administrative Data Research Centre for Scotland (ADRC-S). Chris Dibben is also the Chair in Geography at the University of Edinburgh and part of the Geography and the Lived Environment research institute and the Director of the ESRC′s Administrative Data Liaison Service. His research interests include poverty, deprivation and inequalities; evaluating area-based initiatives; small area statistics; risk, vulnerability and hazards. He has worked on, among other subjects: epidemiological studies into recovery after heart attacks; the causes of low birth weight; the survival of drug misusers; the impact of air pollution.

Partner organisations

Centre for Cities, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Education, Department for Works and Pensions, Economic and Social Research Council, Health & Safety Executive, HM Revenue & Customs, Institute for Fiscal Studies, LSE, What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth, Ministry of Justice, Office for National Statistics, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Turing Institute, UCL, University of Essex, What Works Centre for Crime Reduction, and the What Works Centre for Wellbeing.

Correspondence sent out to Partners

Letter of invitation to join the Partnership

Follow-up letter for first Objective

Next meeting(s)

Thursday 1st March 2018, London

Page last updated: 20/12/2017