CAIN Web Service

A Guide to Carrying Out Research on Northern Ireland and the Conflict

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Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh and Fionnuala McKenna
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

This section provides information on conducting research on Northern Ireland in general and the conflict in particular. This includes a number of guides to sources of data on Northern Ireland in general.

  • Introduction
    • Darby, John. (1997) 'Finding Out More About Northern Ireland', in, Darby, John. (1997) Scorpions in a Bottle. London: Minority Rights Publications.
      This chapter from a book by John Darby provides a good introduction to carrying out research on Northern Ireland and the conflict. The chapter contains many links to material at the CAIN site and also to sources of information at external web sites.

  • Background Information
    • Background Information on Northern Ireland Society
      This section provides contextual information on a wide range of topics for example, demography, employment, education, etc.

    • On-line Research Bank (ORB) {external_link}
      The aim of ORB is to provide summary information on key topics of interest in the Social Policy field in Northern Ireland. ORB concentrates on material that is research based, carried out by government, the voluntary sector or academia and focused on Northern Ireland. This site contains a bibliography of key research documents focused on social policy in Northern Ireland with, in many cases, a summary of the work.

    • RASCAL {external_link}
      RASCAL stands for Research And Special Collections Available Locally. It is an electronic gateway to research resources in Northern Ireland. The web site can be used to search and browse information about the wide range of research and special collections held in libraries, museums, and archives across the region. The Directory consists of comprehensive descriptions of collections available to researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences recording details of content, location, format, and access. Links to institutions' on-line catalogues and other digital resources are provided where appropriate.

    • onlineNI {external_link}
      Public service information (run by the NI e-Government Unit, OFMDFM). The site contains information on: Agriculture; Arts & Culture; Benefits (social security); Education; Employment; Environment; Health; Law & Justice; Sport & Leisure; Taxation; Transport & Travel.

  • Survey Information
    • Surveys On-line (SOL) {external_link} Surveys On-Line provides quick and easy access to a range of social science datasets. Users can view tables of results and / or the questionnaire without having to analyse the full dataset themselves. The majority of datasets are Northern Ireland based, although surveys from other places have been included to allow comparison.

    • The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey (NILT) {external_link}
      The Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) survey is a direct descendent of the Northern Ireland Social Attitudes Survey (NISAS), though the emphasis is less on comparisons with Britain and more on Northern Ireland social policy issues. The survey results are made publicly available on the internet as soon as they are available. The general public is encouraged to make use of the findings and there is a helpline available.

    • The Northern Ireland Young Life and Times Survey (YLT) (1998-present) {external_link}
      From 1998 to 2000, the Young Life and Times (YLT) survey recorded the views of 12 to 17 year olds in Northern Ireland. This survey ran alongside the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey. In 2003 a new Young Life and Times Survey, which asked the views of 16 year olds, was conducted. The results of all the YLT surveys are available at the YLT web site.

    • The Northern Ireland Social Attitudes Survey (NISAS) (1989-1998)
      This section contains details of, and extracts from, the published reports of the Northern Ireland Social Attitudes Survey (NISAS) (1989-1998) and the later Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) survey.

    • UK Data Archive (UKDA) {external_link}
      UK Data Archive (UKDA) is a centre of data acquisition, preservation, dissemination and promotion; and is curator of the largest collection of digital data in the social sciences and humanities in the UK. The Archive contains survey information that was collected in Northern Ireland such as: Community Attitudes Survey; Continuous Household Survey; Northern Ireland Family Expenditure Survey; Northern Ireland Health and Social Wellbeing Survey; Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey; and the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey.

  • Official Statistics
    • Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) {external_link}
      The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) is Northern Irelandís official statistics organisation. The Agency also has responsibility for the registration of births, marriages, adoptions and deaths in Northern Ireland. The NISRA web site contains a comprehensive range of official Northern Ireland statistics as well as information about the Census and the General Register Office. The following web sites are located within NISRA.

      • Equality Research and Information website {external_link}
        This web site within NISRA contains information on how services provided by public authorities meet the requirements of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998) on equality of access. The information is organised by Section 75 category and policy area. The web site contains relevant data and research from a range of sources.

      • Northern Ireland Census Access (NICA) {external_link}
        This web site within NISRA provides access to census data on Northern Ireland. There are currently two main sections within the web site. The first 'Browse NI Census' provides basic population characteristics in a pre-set format and allows comparison of Census results between areas. The second section is the 'NI Census Analyser' which provides access to all the Census data tables for 8 pre-selected standard geographies or for areas which the user designs themselves.

      • Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service (NINIS) {external_link}
        This web site within NISRA provides free access to statistical and locational information relating to small areas within Northern Ireland. Information is available across a range of themes including Population, Social and Welfare, Agriculture, Education and Crime. Users will be able to obtain an area profile based on a postcode or by selecting an area to view.

    • National Statistics online {external_link}
      This web site provides an up-to-date, comprehensive, and meaningful description of the UK's economy and society based on government data but free from political interference. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the government department that provides statistical and registration services.

  • Guides to statistical information

    • NISRA National Statistics online {external_link}
      This web site within NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency) provides information on the range of official statistical information available where the operational control of collection and processing is managed by statisticians and where those processes comply with the Code of Practice. The statistical information is free from political interference and is given the title of National Statistics.

    • A Guide to Northern Ireland Statistics (1994) by the Economics Statistics and Briefing Branch, Policy Planning and Research Unit, Department of Finance and Personnel
      Although dated this provides a useful starting point when tracking down official statistics on various aspects of life in Northern Ireland. See also the NISRA site above.

    • ESRC Data Archive Bulletin special issue on Research Data on Northern Ireland (1992) edited by Bridget Winstanley.
      Although dated this bulletin gives a good guide to research data on Northern Ireland. It takes the form of a series of short essays by academics who specialise on the particular topics under discussion.

    • Women in the Northern Ireland Labour Market: A Guide to Data Sources and Resources (1995) by Gillian Robinson and Fran Porter (while working for the Centre for Research on Women)
      Although this guide deals with the labour market it does provide a useful general introduction to the surveys mentioned.

  • See Also:


  • CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
    CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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