Introduction to Administrative Data Research and Analysis (IADRA)

This course gives a full introduction to working with administrative data. IADRA participants will learn how to understand, access and prepare linked administrative data for analysis.

If you are a social or health researcher with experience of analysing survey data, or if you already work with administrative data but want to analyse multiple administrative datasets linked together, then this course is for you.

The IADRA course was developed jointly by SCADR and the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) Development Support Unit and was initially delivered as a 5 day face-to-face course, called An introduction to data science for administrative data research (IDS-ADR). The original IDS-ADR course was adapted to an online format in 2021 and was renamed in 2024 to Introduction to Administrative Data Research and Analysis (IADRA) and will continue to be delivered online.

Course Overview

The IADRA course combines pre-recorded lectures on key administrative data research topics alongside practical exercises which will provide hands-on experience using R to manipulate and analyse a complex administrative dataset (using SLS synthetic data). Lecture videos are delivered by experts in the field of administrative data research. 

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction to administrative data and administrative data research
  • Legal and ethical contexts of admin data research
  • The public license and public engagement
  • Understanding data provenance
  • Introduction to programming & data manipulation verbs
  • Record linkage
  • Data visualisation
  • Analysing administrative data - methods, issues and challenges
  • Results and lessons learned from SCADR researcher
  • Scottish & UK data showcase

Practical exercises introduce relevant syntax-driven commands used to:

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

Support with weekly practical exercises will be available during weekly scheduled virtual lab sessions, with experienced tutors available to answer questions.


The IADRA course will run online twice a year, in Spring and Autumn. Registration for the Autumn 2024 IADRA course will open in September (dates to be confirmed).

Course materials will be made available via Microsoft Teams and participants will be given access to course materials at the start of each week. Materials include links to access recorded lectures, handouts, other online resources, and materials for the weekly practical session where participants can apply and practice the techniques learned in the course.

Participants will work through the course materials and information in their own time, however there will be a live practical lab session on Teams each week, where participants can work through the practical exercises during the session and speak directly to a tutor if they have questions or need support.

Course materials will remain accessible to participants for one month following the end of the course.

Time commitment

Online learning offers greater flexibility for participants, who can study at a time and speed that suits them. As an estimate, we expect that participants will require approximately 5-6 hours each week to watch lecture videos and review any associated teaching materials, and to complete the weekly practical exercises.

Participants wishing to access additional support completing the weekly practical exercises should also ensure they are available to attend the scheduled live lab session on Thursdays 10.00-12.00 (timings to be confirmed). Participants should be aware that facilitators will only be available to answer questions about the practical exercises during the live practical lab sessions.


The number of participants on this course is capped, with 30 places available. Applicants are expected to have prior experience of quantitative data analysis and preferably experience of using R.

If you are interested in attending the online IADRA course in Autumn 2024, please return to this page at the start of September 2024 to click on the link that will take you to the registration form (link not live until 1st September) 

Please email if you have any queries. 

The course is £120 per participant which is payable upon confirmation of a place.