Administrative data, i.e. data that are collected primarily for the purposes of service delivery, despite being collected for non-research purposes, have the potential to offer valuable insights into a number of research areas. This research could ultimately influence policy and have real world impact. Scotland has the potential to have a significant contribution to this field and become a leader in data science research using administrative data.

Having said that, the infrastructure surrounding the use of such data is still in its infancy and progress in Scotland has been slowed due to challenges associated with data access, information and training. Such challenges seem to disproportionately affect early career researchers (ECRs) like PhD students and Post-Docs: enter the eCRUSADers platform!

The purpose of the eCRUSADers platform is three-fold:

  • To provide a space for the sharing of information and experiences
  • To enhance our understanding of what is working and where there is room for improvement
  • To encourage discussion around what can be done to keep Scotland on the trajectory of becoming a world leader in research using administrative data

Overall, the platform will provide a place for ECRs to go if they are thinking about working with Scottish administrative records and want to learn from the experiences of others. At the same time, the lessons learned in Scotland should also translate over to other jurisdictions, meaning that even if you aren’t working specifically with Scottish data, you can most likely still benefit from the eCRUSADers content. 

As well as containing signposting to useful information and resources, eCRUSADers provides a blog consisting of researcher experience posts; discussions of academic articles of interest (from Scotland and beyond); discussions of relevant training/resources; round ups; contributions from non-ECRs working with or with an interest in Scotland’s administrative records; and anything else of eCRUSADers interest that crops up!

Interested in joining the crusade? Hit subscribe below!

Please contact us at ecrusad@ed.ac.uk if you want to know more or wish to contribute to the blog. 

Lay Summary

The government, and other organisations like schools, charities etc., are constantly collecting data about the services they deliver to us. For example, when you visit the hospital, the doctors will collect data on the dates you visited and any treatments you had done. Or if social care workers deliver care in your home, they will collect information on how many hours of care you received etc. We call this data ‘administrative data’. Administrative data is stored securely by those organisations and under a set of very strict rules, some trained individuals are able to access it. This data will never have your name or address in it, so researchers can’t ever tell who is who in a data set. The researchers who access your data are doing so to carry out research which could improve service delivery and possibly the lives of the general public. Often, those individuals are researchers who are based within Universities.

In Scotland, researchers go through a range of approvals processes before being given permission to use administrative data. Sometimes, this can take a very long time and this has meant that important research about services being delivered to the public is not being done. The fact that it can take a long time is especially difficult for researchers who are at the beginning of their careers (early career researchers) because they have a short amount of time in which to do their research. If early career researchers are not able to use the data at all, then there won’t be many researchers who are trained in working with administrative data, which can be very complicated data, to do research in the future.

The eCRUSADers platform is a place for those researchers to go to find out about how other researchers have worked with administrative data in Scotland. The platform is a space for experiences to be shared so that we can learn from each other and make sure that we use Scotland’s great administrative data to its full potential, ultimately improving the prospects of doing research which will improve the lives Scots.