How do we work with the public?

Public engagement

We define public engagement as a purposeful set of activities designed to promote an ongoing dialogue with the public about administrative data research, driven by active listening and responding. This enables us to enrich understanding for all parties involved and maximise the impact of research, ensuring activities are meaningful and mutually beneficial.

The ADR UK Public Engagement Strategy for 2021-2026 details our cross-partnership vision, objectives and principles for public engagement, as well as our core engagement activities. You can also explore these below.

Public attitudes towards administrative data research

A clear understanding of public views towards administrative data research is essential for ensuring our work demonstrates trustworthiness, and for maximising its public benefit. As highlighted in our review of public attitudes (2020), previous research has 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.

Our vision for public engagement

ADR UK’s mission is to harness the potential of administrative data for research in the public interest. Administrative data is the public’s data: therefore, in addition to making sure this data is used ethically and responsibly, we have a duty to engage the public in how and why their data is used at every stage of our work, and to ensure our work demonstrates trustworthiness. Understanding the public’s needs, interests and concerns in relation to the use of their data, and shaping research to address these, is also essential for maximising the public benefit of administrative data research. Across ADR UK, we are therefore committed to embedding public engagement as a vital part of the research we enable.

Our public engagement objectives and principles

ADR UK’s public engagement has the following two core objectives:

  1. Demonstrate trustworthiness: By listening and responding to public views on how administrative data should be used for research at every stage of our work, and meeting public expectations over and above formal legal requirements, our goal is to demonstrate trustworthiness.
  2. Maximise public benefit: Public engagement is an essential mechanism for understanding people’s needs and interests, to ensure research using administrative data is geared towards achieving the greatest public benefit possible.

Meanwhile, our public engagement principles set the basis for how we go about achieving our engagement objectives. They ensure that our activities are ethical, designed for impact, and aligned to our values and those of the wider discipline of public engagement with research.

Across ADR UK, we are committed to:

  1. Meaningful public engagement: Using appropriate methods to engage the public with a clear purpose at every stage of our work is crucial, as is evaluating and adapting our approaches to ensure they are effective.
  2. A mutually beneficial relationship: We take a dialogue-based approach to listening and responding to public views regarding our work, while enabling our researchers to gain new insights and ideas to develop more impactful research.
  3. Being accountable: It is important that we not only listen to the public, but act upon what they tell us. Ensuring there are appropriate mechanisms for feeding the findings of our public engagement into our work is essential.
  4. Being inclusive: The voices we hear via our public engagement should be inclusive. Engaging with a diverse range of voices from across different backgrounds and identities and adapting our approaches to reduce any barriers to engagement is crucial to this.
  5. Openness and transparency: Telling the public about our engagement and how we are implementing its findings is essential for demonstrating trustworthiness. Regular, open communication about our work, which is clear and accessible to diverse audiences, is key.