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ARK provides the academic and wider community with open access survey data, including the well-established Northern Ireland Life and Times suite of public attitude surveys.

ARK is Northern Ireland's social policy information hub shared jointly by Ulster University and Queen's University Belfast.

The encyclopaedic Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN) gives access to a broad range of information on the conflict in Northern Ireland and on politics in the region. Detailed election results are given on the Elections site. ARK carries out its own research programme and facilitates research by others.

ARK supports civic society and provides a forum for challenging policy. Impact has been at the heart of ARK’s mission since it was established in 2000. The ARK website now averages 12,000 visitors per month.

ARK provides:

  • open access survey data
  • open access political resources
  • support for the research and evidence base
  • support for civic society
  • evidence to facilitate and stimulate critical social policy debate

Our Focus

ARK has four main areas of work

  • Surveys
  • Conflict, Politics and Elections;
  • Policy Research and Resources;
  • Outreach, Dissemination and Training


Through our surveys we aim to provide time-series attitudinal data across age groups to inform policy development.

  • Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey (NILT) is an annual survey monitoring the attitudes of people in Northern Ireland to a wide range of social and political issues. In this section you can look at the questionnaires for each year’s survey and search across all the results.
  • Young Life and Times Survey The Young Life and Times Survey is the sister survey to NILT but is designed to monitor attitudes among young people in Northern Ireland to social and political issues.
  • The Kids’ Life and Times Survey monitors attitudes among children in P7 (10-11 year olds) to issues that affect them.

Working in partnership with others we facilitate access to other independent and government surveys.

  • Northern Ireland Household Panel Survey The Northern Ireland Household Panel Survey (NIHPS) is an extension of the long-running British Household Panel Survey and is carried out by the Central Survey Unit of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). From 2003 to 2010, ARK housed an analysis unit dedicated to facilitating users in their analysis of the NIHPS data.
  • Surveys On Line 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.
  • International Social Survey Programme Each year over 44 countries participate in the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) in which the same module of questions is asked cross-nationally. Northern Ireland has taken part in this exercise since 1989 via the Northern Ireland Social Attitudes Survey (NISA) until 1996, and then more infrequently via the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey (NILT). This section of the website contains tables of results from a range of British, Irish and Northern Irish surveys.

Conflict, Politics and Elections

ARK provides access to a broad range of information on the Northern Ireland conflict and politics in the region, including detailed results of elections. Through its resources ARK aims to facilitate researchers and others in understanding the underlying causes of conflict and to facilitate conflict transformation and peace-building locally and internationally.

  • Elections The Northern Ireland Elections section includes information about elections in Northern Ireland since 1885 and detailed breakdowns of election results
  • Conflict and Politics - One of the most extensive sections of ARK the Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN) is an encyclopaedic resource on ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.
  • Remembering: Victims, Survivors and Commemoration This CAIN specialist section ‘was launched in June 2009 and It contains an extensive on-line digital Archive of source materials and information on the topics of victims, survivors and commemoration in Northern Ireland.
  • The Qualitative Archive on the Conflict holds information on qualitative material covering the 35 year span of 'the Troubles' in NI (content, availability, recording format etc.) and presents it in a searchable catalogue.

Policy Research and Resources

ARK aims to support policy development and debate in Northern Ireland through providing information and critical analysis.

  • ARK's Policy Unit has built on its close connections to the voluntary sector and initiated links with policy makers within the Northern Ireland Assembly and Government departments. It has worked to develop a facility for a more critical appraisal of policy which is based on knowledge and evidence, and which encourages public engagement with Social Policy.
  • The ARK Ageing Programme supports engagement between the age and academic sectors. We do this by encouraging and facilitating the production of research that will support lobbying and advocacy, and the sophisticated use of information and evidence by the age sector.
  • Figuring it Out: Looking behind social statistics in Northern Ireland’ by Ann Marie Gray and Goretti Horgan reveals what social statistics can tell us about social policy in Northern Ireland. Two editions have been published - the first in 2009, and the most recent in 2015. Each edition, produced with the assistance of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, contains statistics accompanied by a lay friendly commentary on transport, the environment, health and social care, education, employment and culture, arts and sport which highlights significant trends and identifies priority issues for social policy.
  • Policy Briefs explore key policy issues facing Northern Ireland and draw on published research evidence and the discussions at the associated Policy Roundtables.
  • Policy Roundtables engage policy makers, practitioners and academics in a Chatam House Rule roundtable discussion on key issues facing Northern Ireland.
  • Through its Consultancy, ARK engages in policy relevant secondary analysis
  • Online Research Bank
    is a collection of searchable databases containing bibliographies and summaries of research. There are currently two databases
  • Archive on Ageism This archive consists of in-depth interviews with older people.

Outreach, Dissemination and Training

ARK aims to build research capacity across all sectors and to facilitate debate.

  • The ARK Seminar Series, established in 2001, provides a forum for social and political research on Northern Ireland to be presented in a lay-friendly format and the series attracts people from a wide variety of backgrounds including academia, policy making, the third sector and the general public. Seminars are now recorded and made available on-line.
  • ARK Research Updates provide brief lay friendly summaries of key research.
  • ARK works in partnership with specialist providers to provide a wide range of introductory and more advanced research and analysis teaching resources and training courses.
  • Through its pro-bono work ARK facilitates capacity building in the voluntary and community sectors.
  • ARK in Schools provides suitable Northern Ireland-specific educational materials for schools, organisations working with young people and for young people themselves.