Accessing data

Accessing administrative data for research can be a complex and lengthy process, given the number of data controllers involved and to ensure all relevant protocols and safeguards are in place.

Clarifying the processes

The Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research is working with the Scottish Government and others (as part of the ADR UK initiative) to clarify and smooth these processes. Doing so will enable more research for the public good, and provide more evidence to inform decision making about key public services and policies.

As part of this work, a new handbook for researchers has been produced by the ADR Scotland team, aiming to give a comprehensive overview of what to consider when accessing data for research. The handbook covers:

  • Where to start and who can help
  • What data is available
  • Developing research questions and defining the data needed to answer them
  • Processes and requirements for accessing data: the differences between data controller requirements
  • The importance of clear public benefit in research
  • Costing and funding information
  • How data linkage works
  • What to expect when accessing data – safe settings information
  • A guide to information governance considerations
  • Research output guidance, restrictions and advice

Download the handbook and if you have suggestions about content or how it can be improved, please contact us.

Who can help?

If you would like advice or information about administrative data research in Scotland, contact us or the  electronic Data Research and Innovation Service (eDRIS) team (part of the Information Services Division (ISD) of NHS National Services Scotland). eDRIS facilitate and support the majority of research projects using administrative data in Scotland. They provide support and advice on the various aspects of the research process, from applying for access to data, to linkage and producing outputs from research.

Read more about starting out in administrative data research >