Longitudinal resources for teaching and research: an introduction to CLOSER

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This workshop was hosted by the University of Manchester Q-Step Centre and the Data Skills and Training Research Group, Cathie Marsh Institute, and facilitated by Professor Alison Park, CLOSER.

The workshop was aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate course leaders and lecturers who are interested in incorporating content about longitudinal studies (including methods, findings and analysis) into their curricula.

Outline of the event

1.30-2.30pm: Overview of CLOSER’s work in training and capacity building

CLOSER is funded by the ESRC and MRC to maximise the use of longitudinal data. This includes an important workstream in training and capacity building. CLOSER is seeking input from those with an interest or responsibility in teaching to inform its training and capacity building offer for the next two years. This brief overview covered CLOSER’s work in this area to date. This included an introduction to the new CLOSER Learning Hub, a new online teaching resource aimed at a non-expert and interdisciplinary audience.

Discussion: How can longitudinal research be embedded successfully into existing teaching provision?

With background on CLOSER’s existing provision, attendees explored what other teaching and learning resources are needed. In particular, the group considered:

  • Where are there still gaps in training provision for longitudinal research?
  • What are the challenges to filling them?
  • What would you need in order to start teaching longitudinal research as part of your course/module?

2.30-3.00pm: Coffee, tea and cakes

3.00-4.30pm: CLOSER Discovery demonstration and hands on session

The first part of this session demonstrated CLOSER Discovery, an innovative new search engine that enables researchers to explore the content of eight leading UK longitudinal studies. It is the most detailed and sophisticated search tool of its kind. Delegates were also given an opportunity to try Discovery for themselves.

Harmonising and linking data

In addition to making longitudinal data more discoverable, CLOSER is working to enhance the data for research purposes. It has focused on harmonising commonly used measures within and across studies, as well as facilitating linkage of study data to administrative records. This short session provided a brief overview of CLOSER’s work in these areas, including forthcoming harmonised datasets to be deposited at the UK Data Service, and current and planned linkages.


  • Professor Alison Park photo

    Professor Alison Park,

    Director, CLOSER

    As Director of the CLOSER programme (Cohort & Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources) I am responsible for making sure that it maximises the use, value and impact of the UK's longitudinal studies.

    My wider research and teaching focuses on social and political attitudes and behaviour and how these are changing over time, and on survey research methods more generally. Prior to joining UCL Institute of Education, I worked at NatCen Social Research where I designed, resourced and carried out commission and grant-funded social research, with a particular focus on survey research.