Accessing data for research

Administrative data is legally-protected data. Access to it is governed by the Digital Economy Act 2017. 

This slide deck from the UK Statistics Authority sets out the background to this legislation, and why it is important for researchers wishing to access administrative data.

You can also watch this video, which provides additional commentary from the UK Statistics Authority.

All DEA accredited researchers and projects are added to a public register.  This can be a useful resource for researchers to find out what projects have been done under the DEA and who is working on them.

Training to become an accredited researcher

In order to access data in ADR UK’s network of trusted research environments, you need to be an accredited researcher under the Digital Economy Act 2017. To become accredited, you can attend a half-day online course: Safe Researcher Training.

This training will: 

  • introduce a framework for data access (the Five Safes) 
  • describe and help you manage the risks involved 
  • explain the theory behind statistical disclosure control and give examples of rules you may need to follow to get data released. 

By the end of the course, you should understand the factors that affect your data access, the importance of attitudes and engagement, specific statistical issues, and how to work efficiently and effectively. There will then be a final test on the course in order to become accredited. 

Safe Researcher Training is offered by:

UK Data Service 

  1. Contact, specifying if you fall into any category: applying for accredited status through the ONS Research Accreditation Service, applying or preparing an application to access controlled data in the UK Data Service Secure Lab, applying to access controlled data in the ONS Secure Research Service, applying to access controlled data in the HMRC Datalab, or applying to access controlled data through ADR UK
  2. Complete an online assessment after the training.

Office for National Statistics 

  1. Submit an online application via the Research Accreditation Service
  2. Sign up to a virtual Safe Researcher Training session
  3. Complete an online assessment after the training.

Contact ONS Customer Support for any specific queries.

Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR) 

  1. Contact, stating: your contact details, your job title and the name of the organisation/ institution you work for, your preferred course date(s), what dataset you are looking to access (if known) and whether this is Scottish or non-Scottish data, whether you will be accessing data through eDRIS or SLS or another provider, why you need to undertake the training, and how you heard about this training
  2. Complete an online assessment after the training.

For researchers who wish to develop their skills, additional training from SCADR is available: Introduction to Data Science for Administrative Data Research course.