Balancing information governance obligations when accessing social care data for collaborative research

Malkiat Thiarai*, Sarunkorn Chotvijit, Stephen Jarvis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: There is significant national interest in tackling issues surrounding the needs of vulnerable children and adults. This paper aims to argue that much value can be gained from the application of new data-analytic approaches to assist with the care provided to vulnerable children. This paper highlights the ethical and information governance issues raised in the development of a research project that sought to access and analyse children’s social care data. Design/methodology/approach: The paper documents the process involved in identifying, accessing and using data held in Birmingham City Council’s social care system for collaborative research with a partner organisation. This includes identifying the data, its structure and format; understanding the Data Protection Act 1998 and 2018 (DPA) exemptions that are relevant to ensure that legal obligations are met; data security and access management; the ethical and governance approval process. Findings: The findings will include approaches to understanding the data, its structure and accessibility tasks involved in addressing ethical and legal obligations and requirements of the ethical and governance processes. Originality/value: The aim of this research is to highlight the potential use of use new data-analytic techniques to examine the flow of children’s social care data from referral, through the assessment process, to the resulting service provision. Data held by Birmingham City Council are used throughout, and this paper highlights key ethical and information governance issues which were addressed in preparing and conducting the research. The findings provide insight for other data-led studies of a similar nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-209
Number of pages16
JournalRecords Management Journal
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
© Malkiat Thiarai, Sarunkorn Chotvijit and Stephen Jarvis. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at The lead author gratefully acknowledges funding support by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Alan Turing Institute (ATI) for the Centre for Doctoral Training in Urban Science and Progress under Grant number [EP/L016400/1] and [EP/N510129/1] respectively. The authors are also grateful to Birmingham City Council for supporting this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Malkiat Thiarai, Sarunkorn Chotvijit and Stephen Jarvis.


  • Ethics
  • Governance
  • Information management
  • Legislation
  • Public sector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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