One of the advantages of longitudinal research is that it produces detailed data sets on all aspects of life. But these enormously rich sources of evidence can be tricky to navigate and analyse – especially for first-time users. As study participants grow older, the data sets become more valuable but also more complex.
What challenges face users of longitudinal data?
Researchers in all sectors therefore need dedicated training, tailored data sets and other resources that are appropriate to their work and experience level. By helping researchers develop the skills, tools and confidence to analyse the data, we can help ensure that the data sets are used to their full potential.
What training and capacity building opportunities does CLOSER offer?
CLOSER’s main training and capacity building programme is divided into three tiers:
- Tier 1 will offer introductory data management and ‘taster’ experiences via cleaned, harmonized and ‘easy to use’ subsets of variables provided by CLOSER Discovery. There will be a focus on policy issues such as health, social position and educational attainment.
- Tier 2 provided face to face Knowledge Exchange Workshops (KEWs) led by expert panels. The workshops aimed to develop best practice in data linkage and data harmonization, with the final event providing a discussion on how to improve and promote interdisciplinary research.
- Tier 3 will offer more advanced training for those with some experience of cohort research. These events will be taught by experienced members of the CLOSER team and invited external experts. Courses will present examples from CLOSER cohorts, emphasize cross-cohort research and analysis, and share best practice in successful cohort research and management. Currently, five major training events have been developed:
- Life Course Research
– coordinated by Diana Kuh and Rebecca Hardy, MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing
- Successful Cohort Leadership & Management
– coordinated by Jane Elliot, UCL Institute of Education, Diana Kuh, MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, and Lynn Molloy, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children
- Data Harmonization
– coordinated by Claire Crawford, Institute for Fiscal Studies, and Will Johnson, MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing
- Cross-Cohort Comparisons: What can they tell us over time?
– coordinated by Rebecca Hardy, MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing, and Michaela Benzeval, Institute for Social and Economic Research
- Record Linkage
– coordinated by Lorraine Dearden, Institute of Education/Institute for Fiscal Studies, and Amanda Sacker, University College London