We are extending the Awards date to Friday 13 August to allow those interested in applying sufficient time to complete and submit their application.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Research Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding innovative research carried out using our secure data that we make available on behalf of others, to deliver a public benefit to the UK, while protecting data confidentiality.


Each year, around 400 projects gain approval to access the secure data we manage for statistical research. The research outcomes inform an extremely diverse range of economic or societal issues, including the UK government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The awards recognise the excellent and innovative analyses carried out and promote best practice research methodologies and data matching or linking. The awards promote greater awareness and understanding of the data available and the public good achieved by statistical research.


You can submit your own research or nominate someone else for an award.

To be eligible for entry, the research should:

  • have research outcomes made publicly available between 1 April 2020 and the closing date, end of July 2021; this can include new analysis, outcomes, impacts or benefits from previously published research
  • feature analysis that has used data owned or managed by the ONS (together with other data sources where relevant) through an approved legal gateway, such as the Digital Economy Act (DEA) for Accredited Research or through the ONS Approved Research scheme
  • show innovative use (including in combination with other data sources and new methodologies), analysis or evaluation of the research data and outputs
  • demonstrate collaboration with partners inside and outside the organisation, where appropriate, to gain insight and inform research methodologies, interpretation, outcomes and dissemination
  • deliver research outcomes that are engaging and disseminated to others, including those in non-analytical professions, to help ensure the findings are clear, helpful, understood, accessible and encourage democratic debate
  • meet a defined user need or deliver a public benefit

Evidence of delivering one or more public benefit for the UK may include, for example:

  • providing an evidence base for public policy decision-making (for example, development or evaluation)
  • providing an evidence base for public service delivery
  • providing an evidence base for decisions that are likely to significantly benefit the UK economy, UK society or quality of life of people in the UK
  • replicating, validating, or challenging Official Statistics
  • replicating, validating, or challenging existing research
  • significantly extending understanding of social or economic trends or events by improving knowledge or challenging widely accepted analyses
  • improving the quality, coverage, or presentation of existing statistical information


The ONS Research Excellence Project Award

Nominations should include clear examples of how the research project has demonstrated excellence in methodology, collaboration, communication and presentation of research, and public benefit or impact. To apply, complete the ONS Research Excellence Project Award 2021 application form.

The ONS Research Excellence Programme Award

This award will recognise outstanding examples of institutions or organisations that have demonstrated excellence in research programme and project delivery. Nominations should include clear examples of how an institution or organisation has demonstrated excellence in methodology, collaboration, communication and presentation of research, and public benefit or impact. To apply, complete the ONS Research Excellence Programme Award 2021 application form.

People’s Choice Award

All eligible entries will automatically be entered into the People’s Choice Award, which will be open to all to cast their votes.

This year we are thrilled to announce two new award categories:

Use of Linked Administrative Data Award

This award recognises innovative or detailed use of linked administrative data. Nominations should include linked administrative data as the primary source on which data analysis was based for the project output(s) and explain how what has been done with the data is novel or exemplary. This award is also available to those applying for the Programme award. To apply, complete the relevant sections of the ONS Research Excellence Awards 2021 Project or Programme application forms.

Early Career Research Award

In order to apply for this award, you must be in the first five years of your career or have a maximum of four year’s academic research experience following the completion of your PhD, or equivalent professional standing. You must have been the principal analyst on the Accredited Project, but not necessarily the Nominated Project Lead. To apply, complete the relevant section in the ONS Research Excellence Project Award 2021 application form.

Judging Panel

We are pleased to announce this year's judging panel.

Karen Powell

Karen Powell is Head of Research Strategy and Commissioning for the ADR UK Strategic Hub. Her focus is on providing opportunities for the academic community to access ADR England's flagship, research-ready data to conduct policy-relevant research, as well as building and nurturing a professional community of administrative data researchers. Karen developed the ADR England Strategy and places a high importance on ensuring research can become useful evidence to inform better decisions for public good.

Stephen Aldridge

Stephen has been Chief Analyst/Chief Economist and Director for Analysis and Data at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government since 2015. A government economist by background, Stephen was previously Chief Economist and then Director of the Strategy Unit in the Cabinet Office. He has also worked in the Department of Trade and Industry; various predecessors to MHCLG; the Cabinet Secretariats; and Her Majesty's Treasury.

Tricia Dodd

Independent member Tricia Dodd is a freelance statistical consultant working mainly with national survey organisations, charities and government departments. She previously held a number of Senior Civil Service positions within the Office for National Statistics including: Chief Methodology Officer at ONS (2016-2018), Deputy Director responsible for Crime and Regional Statistics, ONS (2013-2016) and Deputy Director responsible for Health Statistics and Life Events, ONS (2011-2013).

Mr. Gurdeep S. Mannu

Mr. Gurdeep S. Mannu is an NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in General Surgery at the University of Oxford. His research interest is in cancer epidemiology and was the previous winner of the ONS Research Excellence Award 2020.

Pete Stokes

Pete Stokes is Director of the Integrated Data Programme (IDP) at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Pete is responsible for access to unpublished data through the ONS, including research use of data from across government, through the Secure Research Service (SRS), and future developments with IDP. Pete has worked for ONS since 1998, in roles leading various aspects of the 2011 Census, public policy analysis and the production of regional and local statistics.

Further information

To enter your research, or to nominate someone else, please use the application forms provided.

If you have any questions about the award, would like further information, or to request a word document version of the application forms or guidance, please email us at SRS.Dev-Impact@ons.gov.uk.