New windows of insight. For the very first time, VLDS makes it possible to tap into and analyze data that has been up to now unavailable. It was either too time-consuming or too costly to capture, quantify and dissect or simply not permitted to use for cross-agency research. We only now are beginning to recognize the many possibilities and answers that VLDS can provide.

VLDS is not one set of findings, but the engine behind innumerable categories of data mining and analysis to create usable information for policy. VLDS initially is built on education and workforce programs, but its collaborative, inter-agency data-merging model has been designed to efficiently onboard agencies responsible for other priorities in Virginia.

Research Process

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Contact a Participating Agency to get started!

Researchers interested in VLDS should work with a sponsoring agency to develop and refine research questions consistent with the burning issues and the respective agency’s research agenda.

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Research Proposal and Formal Approval

The VLDS portal is user friendly and provides easy steps to receiving your data. Once you receive preliminary approval of your project, you will be provided access to the VLDS research portal and can submit a formal research request.

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Query Development

This is an important process that requires frequent collaboration with the agency (or agencies) to ensure you understand the data fields you’d like and the amount of data you need.

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Conduct Research

​Once you receive the data, set up times to check in with the agency to ask questions or check on findings you discover. Often, agency staff can explain why data may be missing or why data distributions may be different than expected.

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Communicate Findings

​Talk to your sponsoring agency about a plan to communicate your findings. Agency staff are required to review data tables prior to publication but may also identify opportunities to share research findings through the VLDS Newsletter, Research Forum, or briefings with decision makers or legislators.

Research Resources

Burning Issues

VLDS is organized around addressing issues that are pivotal to Virginia citizens and policymakers. These "Burning Issues" are built upon the following framework:

  • Impact of health, social service, education, and workforce pipeline on Virginia’s economy;
  • Return on investment of health, social service, education, and workforce opportunities and programs;
  • Alignment of health, social service, education and workforce programs to known and projected employers’ needs;
  • Collective, long-term impact of health, social service, education, and workforce programs on people served;
  • Pathways to the workforce, patterns of employment, and factors or conditions that predict success; and
  • Factors or conditions that have the greatest impact on educational achievement and later productivity.

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In addition to the burning issues, each agency provides a research agenda specific to their most salient research needs. Agency research agendas are updated frequently and ensure studies align with time-sensitive, high priority agency research needs.

Research Agendas and Compendium Papers

Research Agendas

In 2020, members of the VLDS and its stakeholders formed a planning committee to develop the VLDS Research Agenda, centered in equity. The Research Agenda reflects a shared commitment among VLDS members to prioritize the critical exploration of equity in Virginia’s state policy and service delivery models, and necessitates interdisciplinary collaboration to promote partnerships and trust building across the Commonwealth. Researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and advocates will find the Research Agenda useful for understanding high-priority research questions for the VLDS.

The VLDS Research Compendium Papers are a natural extension of the work to develop the VLDS Research Agenda. Through a series of essays, authors representing state agencies, research institutions, and state policymaking bodies pose important questions about the use of administrative data for research and provide recommendations for incorporating equity-centered principles into research studies. The Compendium Papers are intended to provoke thought and provide inspiration to bring to light, through data analytics and research, solutions for change.