The Network has experts across all aspects of using data for research, including data de-identification, data linkage, legal issues for the ADRN researcher and public engagement. They have collaborated to create guides to help researchers use data more effectively.
This guide is designed to give readers a practical introduction to data linkage and is aimed at researchers who would like to gain an understanding of data linkage techniques, either for the creation or analysis of linked data. It covers data preparation, deterministic and probabilistic linkage methods, and analysis of linked data, with examples relevant to health and other administrative data sources. This guide is relevant for academic researchers in the social and health sciences or those who work for government, survey agencies, official statistics, charities or the private sector.
Readers should use this guide as an introductory text on data linkage; to gain knowledge of the background and theory of data linkage methods; to understand how to perform basic deterministic and probabilistic linkage; and to consider how to evaluate and report data linkage quality.
This guide requires no previous knowledge or experience of the topic. It is aimed at academic researchers who have an association with the Administrative Data Research Network as well as at a general audience interested in the subject matter. For Network researchers, the document will serve as useful background for the legal aspects of the certification training they receive before they can access the service. Wider audiences might be interested in how the Network’s secure environment ensures the data access we allow is fair and lawful.
The guide sets out the legal background to data protection laws in the UK, and offers a broad explanation of the current law relating to data sharing and linkage, as well as a consideration of the implications of the impending EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016. There is also consideration of some non-legal issues surrounding the topic. Readers can refer to the Network’s website for further information, and should consult professional legal advice on any specific legal points.