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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.

Administrative data can enable progressive social and economic research that makes a positive difference to society. A wide range of data expertise and thought leadership across the ADRN enables it to lead the way in the UK and worldwide.

The government response to the Administrative Data Taskforce in 2012 emphasised the importance of key things that the ADRN has since implemented, including:

  • building on existing activities, infrastructure and systems to develop a new UK-wide approach, and
  • developing the infrastructure to maximise the potential benefits to government analysts, the wider research community and citizens ensuring that the full breadth of data sources, with analytical value and held in administrative systems, are accessible for research

John Pullinger, National Statistician and Lord David Willetts, former MP for Science and Universities, recently highlighted the very real skills gap across the UK that is affecting government departments and policy development in the UK. The ADRN was established to help address some of this.

“My time as Universities minister showed people that are both interested in social policy, and have quantitative skills and training are quite rare in the UK… Across a lot of the Humanities and Social Sciences, there is a significant gap now between the qualifications that many students have and the kind of work that they need to do."

Lord David Willetts, Resolution Foundation at Talk Big Data, University of Essex, November 2016

Government departments need to rely upon robust research using real data to ensure the UK does not fall severely behind other developed countries. The ADRN was established in response to the Administrative Data Taskforce, to provide support for evidence-based policy development across the UK through enabling innovative social and economic research.

Factors that influence representation in Higher Education are of considerable public interest against a policy background in which widening participation within under-represented groups is a key aim. ADRN research in Northern Ireland has identified the most important, among thirteen diverse factors, that potentially influence representation, specifically considering the transition from secondary education. Such findings can prove invaluable to policy makers and government analysts when looking at effective ways to improve equality across society. 

Another ADRN project has worked with the Welsh government to help assess the impact and effectiveness of specific policies developed to support access to the health service in Wales. This study is a great example of how academia can work together with policy makers and government analysts to review existing policies and identify potential areas for reform.

Since its establishment, the ADRN has over 140 research projects across the UK in the pipeline that are looking at challenges including diabetes during pregnancy, childhood chronic disease, the mental health of caregivers and educational attainment, childhood weight loss, fairness of admissions decision making in higher education, domestic violence and child sexual exploitation, homelessness, deprivation, mortality,  airport noise and mental health, social mobility, in-work benefits and the effectiveness of labour market programmes.  The list goes on.

All ADRN research projects have had to go through a stringent application process in order to proceed with accessing data. All ADRN researchers must complete highly specialist training around protecting privacy and demonstrate the potential for public benefit of their research before they can use the Data Service.

Page last updated: 19/06/2017