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Social Research

Making better use of existing data

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  • Release date: 6 December 2013
A range of data about individual citizens is collected and held in various administrative and survey data sets e.g. Health Service Records, the National Survey for Wales. This data can be anonymised and used to develop a richer evidence base to support policy development and evaluation.

Our work has focused on two key methods that can be used to gain added value from existing data: Operational Research (OR) and Data Linking. Over the period 2012-13 we jointly funded several demonstration projects with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) using those techniques in policy relevant scenarios.

We have also sought to develop the ability to link social survey data with other data sources by including a question about ‘consent to link’ to the key social surveys of Wales. This will enable the data to be linked, with appropriate consent, with other data in secure environments to maximise the benefits obtained from collecting this information.

We will continue to pursue opportunities to use operational research and data linking techniques as part of our evidence gathering. In terms of data linking, significant investment has taken place in Wales and the recent award of an Administrative Data Research Centre (ADRC) jointly to Swansea and Cardiff Universities represents a further opportunity to improve the ability of accredited researchers to make use of administrative data in a manner that is safe and secure. We will work closely over the next few years with the ESRC and the newly-established UK Administrative Data Research Network, which includes the ADRC in Wales, and the UK Administrative Data Service, to ensure that these opportunities are maximised.

As part of this work a series of reports have been produced.

Examining the feasibility of creating a Wales longitudinal study

Data linking demonstration projects

Application of operational research techniques to service improvement

Recommendations for improving research access to potentially disclosive data

Contact

Tel: 029 2082 6229
Email: sarah.lowe@wales.gsi.gov.uk

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