Input to ESRC's activities following the Longitudinal Studies Strategic Review

ESRC commissioned an independent international panel to undertake a review of its longitudinal studies and future scientific needs in this area. The report was published in May this year.

The review reaffirmed the value of ESRC's UK Longitudinal Studies and made recommendations, but the panel was not asked to fully shape them. The key recommendations are:

  • Creation of an administrative data spine from which to sample a new cohort and/or refresh existing samples
  • A new birth cohort with accelerated longitudinal design
  • Continuation of Understanding Society and a 'transition to adulthood' sweep of the Millennium Cohort Study
  • An innovation fund for competitive bids including for the other cohorts 
  • Continuation and further development of a longitudinal resource centre (currently CLOSER)

ESRC is now working to shape its strategy and priorities for data for research, including longitudinal survey data and other types of data, using – but not limited to – the review recommendations. We hope to engage with the international longitudinal methodology community broadly to gather expert evidence-based input in key areas and invite other suggestions, to help inform the development of our future strategy.

Opportunities to provide input and share your expertise

We are running two discussion sessions as well as a stand at the Methodology of Longitudinal Surveys II (MOLS2) conference:

  • 25 July 2018 17:25-18:25
    ESRC Consultation Session I – plenary session
  • 27 July 2018 11:00-12:15
    ESRC Consultation Session II – parallel session

Key areas for input

  • Opportunities for innovation in the existing cohorts and Understanding Society 
  • Issues and opportunities in the design of a new birth cohort with accelerated design
  • Opportunities and issues in the development of an administrative data spine
  • What do we need to know soon to help us move forward/priorities for development activities including evidence syntheses, tests/pilots/experiments, and consultancies

Issues for consideration

  • Continuity and consistency versus innovation in existing longitudinal studies – what are the best opportunities and how to use them?
  • Representativeness: who is in the studies, who is not, how to include hard-to-reach groups of interest, in both existing and new studies? How could an administrative data spine help? 

Key questions

Innovation in the existing and new studies

  • What are key areas where there is a need to synthesise existing evidence?
  • What are key areas where piloting or testing is needed to gain new information?
  • How could the population coverage in the existing studies of key groups of scientific and policy interest be increased?
  • What new approaches and technologies could be used in the existing studies to collect new forms of data or to collect data differently, including the demands on respondents, the costs, the time to usable data?
  • What is needed to enable management and analysis of more different types of data?

A new birth cohort potentially with accelerated design

  • Should this start in pregnancy or after birth?
  • What are the pros and cons of using an accelerated design? What are other alternatives?
  • If an accelerated design was used, what age groups should be included?
  • What should the sampling design look like? Where might over-sampling be used?
  • How could recruitment, retention and representation be maximised?
  • What measures should the study contain?

An administrative data spine

  • What ideally would this look like and what data would it contain?
  • How could a data spine best be used for new and existing studies? What would be the main benefits?