Guide to ARK

ARK is a resource dedicated to making social and political information on Northern Ireland available to the widest possible audience. Users include researchers, teachers, schoolchildren, policymakers, journalists, community/voluntary sector workers and anyone with an interest in Northern Ireland Society and Politics.

ARK provides a variety of different kinds of information including background facts and figures, survey results, research reports, research summaries, audio-visual material and election results. If you are looking for information on a particular topic, the Quicksearch facility (available in the top left corner on all pages) is often the best place to start. If you are looking for a particular type of information it may be better go directly to one of ARK’s specialist sections detailed below, each of which have their own search facilities.

ARK is first and foremost a website, but there is a team of people behind this virtual archive who will be glad to talk to you if you need help using the resource. Click on the ‘help’ button to get names and telephone numbers.

ARK Specialist Sections

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.

  • Kids’ Life and Times Survey
    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.


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.

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


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 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.

These sections can be accessed at any time from the menus in the navigation bar on the top of each page

Disclaimer: © ARK 2002 Last Updated on Tuesday, 09-Aug-2016 16:16