Training

There are various training courses available to support administrative data research, some of which are essential in order to access data and others which build relevant skills.

Working with Administrative Data Training

If you are a first time researcher, we recommend a free online modular course offered by Centric, as a first step. This course provides a good overview of best research practice in the use of administrative data.

For those researchers looking for more additional training, we would encourage them to enquire about the four courses listed below, that are comprehensive introductions/overviews of working with administrative data. Each course varies in length, cost and depth, so please enquire directly to each training provider for full details.

1. An Introduction to Data Science for Administrative Data Research (IDS-ADR) course: 

This course gives a full introduction to administrative data, describing what it is, some particular problems that may arise in working with this type of data and how to deal with them.

Theoretical sessions and hands-on practical sessions using R syntax and synthetic data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS), explain to users how to:

  • tidy, clean and recode data
  • link datasets
  • manipulate data
  • conduct data visualisation
  • identify data quality issues
  • and fit regression models

Data showcases and researcher experience sessions describe how to access data and avoid common pitfalls.

This course ran online in May 2021. Please visit our IDS-ADR webpage for further details. If you wish to enquire when the next training course will run, please email scadr@ed.ac.uk.

2. Administrative Data Training - Centric:

Centric’s online self-guided course is for researchers interested in or currently working with UK administrative data and was co-produced by researchers and stakeholders using administrative data.

The online training via Moodle contains interactive slides and learning materials covering the following topics:

  • Intro to admin data 
  • Admin data in the study lifecycle 
  • Safeguarding Public Data - models of data access and identifiability 
  • Key Regulatory Considerations 
  • The Application and Approvals (from key UK providers) 
  • Working with the Public 

Supporting these modules is an extensive resources section for further reading and to advance understanding.

Please visit the Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University or Centric's webpage for further details on training courses available. 

3. Data Awareness Training – The Health Foundation & Cancer Research UK:

This course starts with the basics of different types of data, why some is more sensitive and legally protected, and how different access processes are required for different types of data.

Further information is given on data access processes and creating safe outputs (Statistical Disclosure Control) from The Health Foundation’s secure data environment.

Please visit the Working Group for Safe Data Access Professionals webpage for further details, where the Slides from this course are available.

4. Analysis of Linked Health Data (introductory and advanced) – Swansea University / University of Sydney:

These in depth courses are ideal for health and social care researchers, social scientists, clinical practitioners and health care managers and introduce the topic of linked health data analysis at an introductory to intermediate level. 

Practical exercises using deidentified data use programs such as SPSS, SAS, STATA or R to investigate methods of basic statistical analysis. Topics include:

  • Introduction to data linkage and its history 
  • How record linkage works & quality
  • Ethics, data security, application processes 
  • Types of population health databases 
  • Constructing study populations 
  • Arrays, merging datasets, tagging records, creating sequence variables 
  • Measures of health care utilisation; health care episodes 
  • Preparing data for analysis & accuracy and reliability of data sources 
  • Introduction to survival analysis and Cox regression 

Please visit the Data Science webpage at Swansea University for further information on either the Analysis of Linked Health Data (PMIM302) or the Advanced Analysis of Linked Health Data (PMIM602) course, or visit the University of Sydney Short Courses webpage.

Skills Training

Researchers 

Researchers using administrative data need a variety of skills. Training required depends on their experience, the data accessed and the analysis required.

Before researchers can access any data in the National Safe Haven, they must have successfully completed appropriate training, such as the ONS Safe Researcher Training course (ONS-SRT). Specific data controllers have specific training course requirements, so please do check with your Data Controller or Research Coordinator, that they are satisifed the ONS-SRT course is right for your needs.

Research Methods

The National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) has a comprehensive course database of methodological courses covering a wide variety of relevant skills.

The UK Data Service runs multiple training courses and resources including courses specifically on the data within the holding and how to use it, as well as wider skills training in a range of data.

The Scottish Longitudinal Study Development and Support Unit (SLS-DSU) run courses on specific methods within administrative data research such as survival analysis, and an introduction to the Scottish Longitudinal Study resource.

For those new to quantitative research, most universities run in-depth introductions for staff and students to statistical packages like R, Stata and SPSS.

Output checking/Statistical Disclosure Control (SDC)

The UK Data Service Handbook on Statistical Disclosure Control for Outputs is available on their website.

The ONS SRT course delivered by SCADR has an extensive section on SDC and how to create safe outputs, please visit our website for more information.

The Safe Data Access Professionals group have produced a Guide on Statistical Disclosure Control (SDC) to ensure that your research outputs do not disclose any information about the individuals or organisations in your data set.

The Public Benefit and Privacy Panel for Health and Social Care (HSC-PBPP) is an annual course explaining HSC-PBPP and and how to write a good application. Click here for details. Please read the HSC-PBPP course round-up blog on the eCRUSADers website for a full review.

Feedback welcome

We welcome feedback. Have you found any useful courses that we should promote? Are there skills where you need training but have not found suitable provision? Please contact us by emailing scadr@ed.ac.uk with your thoughts.