Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Linked justice and education data research fellowship

Apply for funding to conduct research and analysis through Administrative Data Research (ADR) UK. Your project will show how Ministry of Justice (MoJ) justice data and Department for Education (DfE) educational data could have an impact on policy.

The research should include:

  • data discovery and cleaning
  • policy and public engagement
  • output production.

You must be an individual researcher from an eligible UKRI research organisation.

Projects should last 12 months. We will fund up to £130,000 (100% full economic cost) at 80%. The remaining 20% should be funded by your research organisation.

Who can apply

Proposals are welcome from individual researchers from eligible UKRI research organisations, including early career researchers (where a mentor is mandatory).

Researchers on fixed term contracts are eligible to apply if their institutions are willing to extend their contracts to cover the period of the fellowship.

Joint applications are not permitted for this call. However, applications can still include mentorship and research assistance where necessary, although the fellow should be the one mainly using and leading on the analysis of the dataset(s).

Letters of support from other organisations, both academic and non-academic, are also welcomed as we are keen to ensure that research is relevant and well-received.

Applications will be assessed over the summer, with successful applicants projected to start work in late September 2021 and a latest start date of 15 November 2021.

What we're looking for

We are looking for demonstrable experience of working with large datasets coupled with a willingness to engage with other researchers across the ADR UK partnership as well as policy makers. Experience of MoJ or DfE data is not essential.

Applications will be assessed based on their scientific merit and potential for policy impact as well as their ability to deliver within the timeframe. Data owner approvals are essential and will be coordinated by ADR UK as part of the decision-making process.

Applications can be for either part-time or full-time research fellows, but the recommended minimum is 60% full time equivalent. Proposals may also include:

  • salaries plus nominated research support staff or mentorship time (mentorship is a requirement for applications from early career researchers)
  • travel and subsistence
  • project-specific engagement or events
  • public engagement
  • production of outputs
  • training.

Joint or team applications are not eligible for this scheme, though letters to support the research from other academic or non-academic organisations are encouraged.

Applicants will also need to become an Accredited Researcher of the Office for National Statistics Secure Research Service (ONS SRS) platform and have their project approved by the data owners via the MoJ-DfE application form for secure access to data (SAD) form.

Given these data are relatively new to the wider research community, ADR UK also welcomes proposals for feasibility or investigative studies, which might involve research that provides a better understanding of an existing problem but does not necessarily provide conclusive results. For example, exploring the quality or contribution of the data in understanding a particular issue.

Whether research is exploratory or substantive, all proposals should explain how findings will have demonstrable policy relevance.

Broad research questions which could be explored with the data include:

  • is there an association between particular interactions with the education system and offending, and if so, is one of these factors typically the driver?
  • how are the relationships between educational and criminal justice outcomes impacted by demographic factors?
  • how does educational performance influence the likelihood that someone will commit a crime and be sentenced​? Also, what is the link between characteristics and outcomes in terms of disposal types and also types of crime committed?
  • what are the protective factors against offending for at-risk children?
  • what are the short and long-term effects of exclusion on educational attainment and offending?
  • how do education or children’s social care and adversity interact?
  • what is the influence of early education/children’s social care on later prison outcomes – longevity, frequency?
  • what is the impact of educational trajectory on offending?
  • what are the interactions between educational attainment and prolific vs time-limited offending?
  • what are the protective and risk factors for all crimes, such as cyber and acquisitive, and if or how these differ across crime types?

Further information is available in the full call specification on the ADR UK website (see related links).

How to apply

Applications will be made through Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

Please see Je-S guidance attachment for in-depth information about the application process.

When applying select:

  • council: ESRC
  • document type: Fellowship
  • scheme: Research Fellowship
  • call/type/mode: ADR UK Research Fellowship: MoJ-DfE Linked Data 2021

How we will assess your application

Research applications should be submitted via Je-S by 30 March 2021, with the first two sections of an additional data access (SAD) form submitted via email at the same time to both:

Following basic office eligibility checks, research applications will be assessed by a funding panel of independent expert reviewers, with at least three individual members reviewing and scoring each proposal.

Final funding recommendations will be made at a panel meeting of all reviewers in early July, though these will be subject to full data owner approval.

The funding panel outcomes are expected to be communicated within two weeks of the meeting, and if an applicant receives conditional funding approval, they will then be asked to complete the full SAD form and submit it to MoJ/DfE for a full review via their data access governance panels. Please see the ADR website under ‘related links’ for the full timetable.

Funding approval and offer letters are expected to be issued in September 2021, with a latest start date of 15 November 2021.

Assessment criteria include:

  • likelihood of demonstrating the potential of administrative data research for public policy impact
  • scientific merit
  • feasibility to deliver in the timeframe
  • knowledge and experience
  • value for money
  • data owner approval

Further information is available in the full call specification on the ADR UK website (see related links).

Contact details

Additional info

ADR UK (Administrative Data Research UK)

ADR UK is a partnership transforming the way researchers access the UK’s wealth of public sector data. Our aim is to provide better information for policy decisions to improve lives. We enable vital research that has the potential to lead to more effective public services by linking together administrative data held by different parts of government and making it available for research. ADR UK is initially a three-year investment supported by £44 million drawn from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).

The ADR UK Research Fellowship Scheme is supported by its Strategic Hub Fund, which has already been used to support invited bids to conduct research in line with identified strategic priorities around public service delivery and the creation of new de-identified linking datasets.

Research Fellowships are the next phase — to provide secure, funded academic access to these datasets for research projects with the potential for policy impact.

MoJ-DfE data linkage

The MoJ-DfE data linkage provides data on childhood characteristics, education outcomes and (re)-offending. The shared information consists of data on the educational characteristics of young people, from DfE, linked to data on their interactions with the criminal justice system, from MoJ.

The data in this share relates to those offenders with at least one record from 2000 or later, who were on the Police National Computer (PNC) at the end of 2017 and were matched to individuals on the National Pupil Database (NPD). Only offenders who were born on, or after 31st August 1985 were matched, because earlier groups do not have a realistic chance of matching. The earliest year shared will cover those aged 16 during the 2001/02 academic year, the oldest group likely to be present in the NPD.

This data linkage includes 20 DfE datasets, including data on academic achievement, pupil absence and pupil exclusions. It also includes 11 MoJ datasets, including data on offenders’ criminal histories, court appearances and time in prison. Each dataset has a unique ID variable that can be used to link across the datasets.

The MoJ-DfE data linkage is supported by data documentation to enable accredited researchers – across government and academia – to make the best of use of this data to improve our understanding of justice-system use. This data documentation provides an overview of the data, its structure, and a list of all variables included. Data documentation can be requested by emailing

The data can be contextualised differently depending on the extract you request. For this Research Fellowship you are only able to apply for the DfE extract to contextualise it with the wider pupil population as offending data is not available in the ONS Secure Research Server.

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.