Public dialogues on using administrative data

21 Mar 2014


The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) collaborated with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to run a series of public dialogues across the UK to understand better how people view using and linking administrative data for research.  These workshops took place across October and November 2013.

The report is available to download:

The dialogues, run by Ipsos MORI, comprised of events in Manchester, London, Stirling, Cardiff, Wrexham, King’s Lynn and Belfast. During the two day-long sessions, participants - recruited from a cross-section of people - worked with trained facilitators and experts to discuss the challenges of linking administrative data for research purposes.

The new dialogues explored attitudes around the re-use of sensitive data, mandatory and voluntary data collection and long-term data storage and data linking, and, specifically, examined the re-use of public data for research purposes. These dialogues have started to inform the ESRC and ONS strategies and also the Administrative Data Research Centres (ADRCs) and Administrative Data Service.

Aims of the dialogues:

  • to better understand people’s views on the linking of administrative data
  • to begin the process of creating a terminology describing the re-use of administrative data and data linking that is understandable to the general public
  • to help inform the development of the governance and operational procedures that ADRCs will adopt and provide data on public attitudes for ADRCs to inform their future strategies and priorities for public engagement
  • provide ONS with more detailed evidence on public views of their current front-running approaches for Beyond 2011. This will be provided as a separate report.

The project was directed by a steering group including IMPRINTS Project Investigator, Professor Liesbet van Zoonen, Edinburgh University, members of ESRC’s Methods and Infrastructure committee, and representatives from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Wellcome Trust, and Sciencewise.

ONS conducted considerable research into the public acceptability of re-using administrative data for statistical purposes as part of their Beyond 2011 Programme which investigates the potential alternatives to running a traditional census in 2021. Earlier work included exploring public views on sharing, linking and storing administrative data. The report which provides ONS with more detailed evidence on public views of their current front-running approaches for Beyond 2011 will be published in May 2014.