Our funding environment is changing, as is the availability of data, and as we move forward into UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) it is time to take stock, look forward and review the scientific need for longitudinal studies.

The Longitudinal Studies Review 2017 provides the opportunity to look ahead at the future needs for longitudinal studies within this changing context.

The recommendations from this review, which builds on the ESRC 2006 Strategic Review of Panel and Cohort Studies (PDF, 711Kb), will inform our future strategy, funding, management and commissioning decisions, including what to continue, to change, to stop and to start.

The review

The 2017 review is being undertaken by a small, independent, international panel (PDF, 53Kb), chaired by Professor Pamela Davis-Kean, University of Michigan. A steering group (PDF, 40Kb) comprising members from ESRC governance structures, plus individuals from MRC, Wellcome and GO-Science, provides strategic oversight.

The review will examine:

  • the future scientific and policy-relevant need for longitudinal studies, including the interests of non-social scientists and elements of the research base that have not traditionally been core users of longitudinal datasets
  • the impact of longitudinal studies and where we expect to see impact in the future
  • the changing context of large survey data collection, including attitudes to engagement, new technologies and methods of data collection, and the potential for data linkage with administrative, health and commercial datasets
  • the shape of our current portfolio, including its UK and international context, and its fit with broader data infrastructure.

Activities to date

ESRC ran an open consultation in autumn 2016 seeking to engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders with an interest in longitudinal studies.

We held an invitation-only workshop in January 2017 to provide the opportunity for stakeholders to contribute towards the review process, with balanced range of participants from academia, government (central and agencies), charities and businesses.

Following the consultation and workshop, the international review panel (PDF, 53Kb) developed five evidence-gathering workstreams, each led by a panel member with input on the UK context from members of the review steering group (PDF, 40Kb). These workstreams are gathering evidence through the spring and summer of 2017, with each panel member making visits to the UK to meet with key experts, stakeholders and users of longitudinal studies. While each workstream focuses on particular key issues, panel members are working closely together to ensure the sharing of issues and emerging themes across the workstreams.

Key dates

  • Launch and initial analysis of the consultation - October to December 2016
  • Longitudinal studies review workshop - January 2017
  • Commission evidence-gathering workstreams - March 2017
  • Worksteams progress - March to July 2017
  • Collation of evidence from workstreams - July to September 2017
  • Draft panel report - October 2017
  • Final panel report - December 2017
  • Presentation of report to ESRC Council by panel chair - February 2018