New Compendiums to Support Linking Data for Research

August 18, 2020
| Brett Brown
New compendiums to support linking data for research graphic

Data analysts and researchers interested in taking greater advantage of rich administrative data sources for their work will want to take a closer look at two new resources recently released by OPRE.

Administrative data sources offer unique opportunities for researchers to expand the knowledge base for social policy, though they can be difficult to locate, access, and use. In response, OPRE and its partners provide these roadmaps to ACF and other administrative data resources, including essential information allowing interested researchers to quickly assess and more fully exploit their research potential.

Interested in analyzing ACF administrative data? The ACF Data Compendium provides a wealth of information on ACF data relating to employment, TANF, child welfare, childcare, and other ACF programs. The Compendium includes useful information like:

  • Links to available data sources
  • Instructions for gaining access to restricted data sets
  • Basic content
  • Available codebooks and documentation
  • Data quality information
  • PII available for linking

The compendium covers 12 major ACF administrative data resources and 7 national surveys. The ACF Data Compendium is a joint effort between OPRE and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE).

If you are a program evaluation researcher, you may be even more interested in the second compendium, which covers administrative data sources that may be valuable to link to evaluation data to explore long-term outcomes.Linking administrative data sets to evaluations can open up new possibilities for assessing program impacts across a wide variety of outcomes and over long periods of time. This approach can be more cost effective than traditional methods of follow-up data collection.

Information provided includes:

  • Basic descriptive information and available metadata on national and state data resources commonly used for this purpose
  • The process of and costs associated with gaining access for linkage and secure analysis
  • Details of the matching process for linkage, and
  • Whether IRB permission and MOUs are required

The Compendium also includes information on selected federal and private research data centers, which provide secure and convenient environments for the linkage and analysis of sensitive data from multiple sources. MDRC produced this compendium for OPRE.

Linking administrative data in research can open up new possibilities for growing the evidence base for policies and programs within ACF and elsewhere. It’s OPRE’s pleasure to provide the research community with these tools to take advantage of the potential of existing data.

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