The Longitudinal Studies Centre - Scotland (LSCS) is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS). The establishment of this dataset was funded by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC), the Chief Scientist Office (CSO), the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) and the Scottish Executive (SE). ESRC funding has allowed the provision of a free support service to help academics access the data.
About the Longitudinal Studies Centre - Scotland
The Scottish Longitudinal Study
The Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) is a large 5.3 per cent sample of the Scottish population for whom various demographic, socio-economic and health data are linked. The sample is around 270,000 and the data sources we draw upon include Census data, Vital Events data (births, deaths and marriages), National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR) data (migration in or out of Scotland) and NHS data (cancer registrations and hospital episodes). As such, the SLS is a close replica of the England and Wales Longitudinal Study (LS) which has been running successfully for the past 30 years, although the incorporation of hospital episode data is unique to the SLS and makes it especially useful for health-related research.
What can the data be used for?
Longitudinal studies of the type we are creating with the SLS have many advantages over surveys, particularly when looking at health issues, although the study can be used for various other projects too. Because of the inclusion of socio-demographic data from censuses and other sources an added dimension can be brought to the analysis of health variations and inequalities. Social differentials in health and mortality can be explored using various measures of social class, occupation and industry, housing tenure, car access, overcrowding and lack of amenities in housing, ethnicity and sex. The effects of geography and migration can also be examined. Change over time can be looked at with reference to a person’s later health or their cause of death because of the linkage of data from more than one census.
Information on how the datasets were created, how many SLS members have been traced and other background information can be found in SLS Working Papers 1.0 and 2.0.
Training courses introducing the dataset are run regularly. We also host events designed to encourage the use of longitudinal data and to identify state-of-the-art research in the field.
In addition, the LSCS is part of a collaborative group which provides general training in longitudinal data handling, analysis and modelling, funded by ESRC under the Research Methods Programme. This Longitudinal Analysis in the Social Sciences initiative is led by Vernon Gayle and will involve an integrated programme of training activities (workshop/seminars), as well as the development of a set of computer based online training resources. The programme involves collaboration between the Longitudinal Studies Centre - Scotland and Applied Social Science, Scotecon and the Centre for eLearning Development (all based at Stirling University).