Building administrative data research communities to address pressing policy challenges
Categories: Blogs, ADR England, Office for National Statistics, Children & Young People
14 March 2023
In this blog, Karen Powell sets out why ADR UK and partners are funding communities of researchers to advance the use of administrative data in the public interest. Karen is Head of Research Strategy and Commissioning for ADR UK.
At ADR UK, we’re piloting an exciting new approach to drive up the research use of ADR England flagship datasets, by funding three ADR England Research Community Catalyst Awards. These community catalysts – likely to be small teams – will carry out an ambitious programme of work to develop and advance the landscape of administrative data research for public good. The award holders will provide strategic leadership, build research capacity and develop diverse, cross-sector research communities, with each catalyst team focusing on a specific theme.
Building partnerships for a common purpose
We are co-funding these awards in partnership with organisations that have an existing mission to enable evidence-informed policy and practice. These organisations share a mutual interest in supporting the greater use of linked administrative data. They recognise the opportunity to realise its potential by creating greater focus and momentum around a theme.
Collectively, our vision is for the outputs and connections made throughout and between these awards to be a steppingstone for future ADR UK investments, bringing fresh ideas to inform future funding decisions. In turn, if successful, this ADR England pilot could inform future UK-wide activity.
Selecting themes to make an impact
The three themes for this new pilot initiative were selected because they are cross-cutting, in terms of government departmental boundaries and existing relevant ADR England flagship datasets, as well as having the potential to make a considerable contribution to social science, policy and practice. Through these awards, the community catalysts will create the opportunity for collaborations across government and research disciplines, and to consider more holistic perspectives on pressing societal issues.
Theme 1: Children at risk of poor outcomes
The data landscape for children who come into contact with early intervention services or children’s social care is patchy. This limits its potential to drive policy, practice and research that improves children’s lives.
The ADR England Research Community Catalyst for Children at Risk of Poor Outcomes aims to build a community of data users. This community will have the ability to provide strategic leadership for administrative data and research, focusing on children and young people supported by early intervention services or children’s social care.
This award is co-funded by What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care.
Register for an applicant webinar to find out more about the Children at Risk of Poor Outcomes Community Catalyst.
Theme 2: Youth transitions
Existing data allows us to map young people’s journeys through school, further or higher education, and onto their next steps. But this data can be of poor quality and limited availability.
A cross-sector strategy that maps missing or incomplete data and outlines required datasets would improve the research landscape. This could help us answer pressing questions around what works to support youth transitions and reduce inequalities.
The ADR England Research Community Catalyst for Youth Transitions aims to map the data sources, identify potential avenues for better data linking, and create a community of data users to answer important research questions.
This award is co-funded by the Youth Futures Foundation and the Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education.
Register for an applicant webinar to find out more about the Youth Transitions Community Catalyst.
Theme 3: Evaluation
The demand for high quality evaluation evidence within UK and devolved governments has increased significantly over the last decade. Administrative data has the potential to be used alongside complementary data for policy evaluation – to help us understand what works.
The ADR England Research Community Catalyst for Evaluation will support researchers to work with policy stakeholders. They will explore opportunities to harness existing data – including ADR England datasets, and complementary datasets such as population studies and research trials data – to evaluate public policy and practice.
This award is co-funded by the Evaluation Task Force and the Economic and Social Research Council.
Register for an applicant webinar to find out more about the Evaluation Community Catalyst.
By establishing thriving researcher and stakeholder communities around pressing issues, we want to build capacity for research to address these issues – using administrative data. These community catalysts will develop a shared understanding of the gaps and priorities within each theme, empowering the community to maximise the public benefit of administrative data research.
Find out more and apply for an ADR England Research Community Catalyst Award.
We are also inviting expressions of interest to join the assessment panel for this funding opportunity. If you are not planning to apply for a community catalyst award, you can register your interest as a potential panel member - read the funding opportunity announcement to find out more.