How do we work with the public?

In line with our values, we have a programme of ongoing public engagement activity, and more in the works, to make sure the research we enable accounts for the interests and concerns of its data subjects and the groups it hopes to benefit.

Public attitudes towards administrative data research

A clear understanding of public views towards administrative data research is essential for ensuring our work has social licence, and for maximising public benefit. As highlighted in our review of existing literature (2020), previous studies have shown that the public is broadly supportive of the use of administrative data for research as long as three core conditions are met:

  1. Public interest – any research using administrative data must demonstrate that it is in the public interest and has potential to lead to tangible benefits for society;
  2. Privacy and security – data being linked and used for research must be de-identified, and protections must be in place to prevent it from being re-identified or misused;
  3. Trust and transparency – trust in those holding and using data is paramount; and transparency around how data is held and used is essential.

ADR UK’s structure and approach ensures that each of the three conditions outlined above are at the core of everything we do. You can find out more about how we maintain them on the Ethics & Responsibility page.

Public engagement

ADR UK’s public engagement activities focus on exploring people’s interests and concerns in relation to specific areas of research, building upon the findings of the broader public attitudes work previously done. This involves engaging with the sub-sectors of society that each of our projects hopes to benefit, or with a cross-section of society on a particular aspect of the use of administrative data. This may be either directly or via relevant community representatives – for example, charities, NGOs and community groups – to allow us to account for the interests of those whose lives the research affects.

We continue to monitor and respond to any changes to public attitudes that may be identified by other, broader attitudinal work going forward, and will adapt our approach in light of these where necessary.

You can find out about our main streams of public engagement, and some of the activities underway across the ADR UK partnership, below.

Public panels

Public panels are a growing element of ADR UK’s public engagement work, providing a platform for members of the public to offer valuable feedback about our work.

The SAIL Consumer Panel for Data Linkage Research was established in 2011 and acts as a public voice in ADR Wales' work, providing input on governance systems, public engagement plans and research practices. The Panel allows ADR Wales to explore the public’s perspective on data linkage research and provides opportunities for members of the public to join research study teams. The Panel currently has 16 members, with ongoing recruitment.

ADR Scotland’s Public Panel, set up in 2019 and maintained by the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR), ensures members of the public are consulted on and involved in the administrative data research undertaken by ADR Scotland. Made up of members of the public from across Scotland, the panel allows ADR Scotland to test assumptions about public perceptions regarding administrative data research and involve the public in determining what ‘public good’ means in this context.

Public panels for England and Northern Ireland are currently in scope for consultation and advice on specific areas of ADR England and ADR Northern Ireland research. Keep an eye out for more information coming soon.

Get involved

Working with the third sector

Engaging with charities, voluntary groups and other third sector organisations as both consumers and drivers of administrative data research allows ADR UK to understand the research needs of specific communities and sub-sectors of society. It also empowers these groups by offering the opportunity to influence the direction and outcome of research.

The Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland (ADRC NI) holds a Data Workshop Series around themes of interest to both researchers and local organisations. These focus on: raising awareness among voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) groups about the power and potential of data in their own work; how complex questions can be answered using data; raising public acceptability and demand for the sharing of data for research purposes; and establishing and embedding positive working relationships with the VCSE sector. Furthermore, by bringing key stakeholders onto steering committees for each of its projects, ADRC NI maximises engagement with people and organisations with differing expertise and knowledge of the issues researchers are exploring; and gains buy-in and ownership from people and organisations who can turn research findings into policy and societal change.

ADR Scotland conducts project-specific dialogue involving engagement with third sector organisations, community groups and other representatives able to speak on behalf of the publics and communities relevant to each of ADR Scotland’s projects. Meanwhile, ADR Wales holds stakeholder workshops with devolved and local government and third sector organisations, to get feedback on work already done and gain input on future work. The workshops provide an opportunity to tap into others’ expertise and receive valuable insight on projects using administrative data.

ADR England oversees a number of community representative panels. The panels, made up of third sector representatives, practitioners and others working directly with or for particular groups of people, are being brought together to ensure administrative data research is conducted in the interests of the public. For example, the Data First User Representation Panel, made up of representatives from organisations that work directly with or on behalf of people with experience of the criminal, civil and family justice systems, has been established to help shape the project in a way that delivers the greatest possible benefits and impact. Find out more on the Data First project page. In addition, the ADR England Children & Young People Representative Panel provides opportunities for researchers using children and young people's data for England to engage with third sector representatives and other practitioners working with or on behalf of children and young people. Find out more on the Children & Young People page.

If you’re from a third sector organisation interested in working with ADR UK to increase a community’s representation in our work, please get in touch.


ADR UK runs a number of public talks and seminars to allow individuals and communities to learn more about what we do and the motivation behind our work. We also participate in external public events throughout the year to raise awareness about our work and engage with interested communities around the UK.

Upcoming events

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