Preparing for the future II: international approaches to challenges facing the longitudinal population studies ShareThis


CLOSER is hosting a second collaborative conference for the international longitudinal population studies community to share learning, and develop common solutions to key challenges.

About the conference

Longitudinal population studies currently face a number of challenging issues. How should studies integrate novel data collection methods and emerging technologies? How can the utility of historic data be enhanced? And critically, how can studies keep participants involved for the long term?

At the same time, studies across the world are finding ways to harness the opportunities these challenges can bring. Following the success of CLOSER’s 2018 Preparing for the future conference, we are extending the discussions beyond the UK, to studies around the world. The purpose of this conference is to unearth best practice, and identify ways to tackle shared challenges. It is a collaborative, interactive event with a strong focus on problem solving.

The programme has been informed by the results of a consultation exercise with UK and international longitudinal studies. Each session will involve short presentations of exemplar work in a given area, followed by facilitated group discussions and the chance for delegates to share their own experiences. The day will include plenty of time for networking.

The conference sessions will address the following topics:

  • New forms of data collection
  • Data harmonisation
  • Data linkage
  • Data discoverability
  • Reducing attrition and participant engagement


Please note this programme is still being finalised and may be subject to change.

09:30 Registration and refreshments

10:00 Welcome to the conference
Prof Bobby Duffy, CLOSER Advisory Committee Chair

10:05 Panel discussion – Setting the scene: our greatest challenge
Chair: Prof Rebecca Hardy, CLOSER Director
Confirmed panellists:

  • Alissa Goodman, Director of UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies
  • Susan Morton, Principal Investigator, Growing Up in New Zealand
  • Shane Norris, Principal Investigator of the Soweto First 1000 Days Cohort & Co-Principal Investigator of the Birth to Twenty Plus cohort
  • Narayan Sastry, Associate Director of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics
  • Nic Timpson, Principal Investigator of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children

11:05 Refreshment break

11:30 Parallel session A:

  • A1 Reducing attrition and participant engagement: international perspectives
    Session lead: Hazel Inskip, Southampton Women’s Survey

    • Key strategies for minimising attrition and increasing participant engagement in the PSID and its child and young adult supplements
      Kate McGonagle, Panel Study of Income Dynamics
    • Innovative Protocols and Extensive Local Knowledge: How to Overcome Attrition and Participant Engagement Challenges in Longitudinal Studies
      Johanna Choumert-Nkolo and Luca Privinzano, Tazanian Kagera Health and Development Survey
  • A2 Data linkage
    Session lead: Sally Bridges, Born in Bradford

    • An overview of the benefits and challenges to data linkage in Australia
      Galina Daraganova, Australian Institute of Family Studies
    • Epicosm: a framework for linking and social media data in large-scale birth cohorts
      Oliver Davis, MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol
  • A3 Data harmonisation
    Session lead: Dara O’Neill, CLOSER

    • Maximising comparability: Harmonisation of mental health measures in the British birth cohorts
      Eoin McElroy, University of Leicester
    • Speaker TBC

12:30 Lunch and networking

13:45 Parallel session B:

  • B1 New forms of data collection
    Session lead: Lisa Calderwood, Next Steps

    • New forms of data collection: Using apps to measure household spending
      Jon Burton, Understanding Society
    • Taking phenotype to the population: The ultimate challenge
      Melissa Wake, Generation Victoria
  • B2 Data linkage
    Session lead: Andy Boyd, CLOSER Leadership Team and ALSPAC

    • Linking data on proximity to fast foods to the Millennium Cohort Study
      Emla Fitzsimons, Millennium Cohort Study
    • Challenges and solutions – linking additional data to the UK Census Longitudinal Studies
      Oliver Duke-Williams, CeLSIUS
  • B3 Data discoverability in the biomedical sciences
    Session lead: Nic Timpson, ALSPAC

    • Longitudinal data discoverability with MIDUS and DDI
      Barry Radley, Midlife in the United States
    • ATLAS: making the UK’s cohorts discoverable
      Phil Quinlan, HDRUK Atlas Project

14:45 Refreshment break

15:00 Parallel session C:

  • C1 Data harmonisation
    Session lead: Rebecca Hardy, CLOSER

    • Data harmonisation: The LifeCycle Experience
      Angela Pinot de Moira, LifeCycle
    • Growing Up Healthy across the Globe – exploring harmonisation as a tool to understand what shapes wellbeing across population contexts
      Susan Morton, Growing Up in New Zealand
  • C2 Reducing attrition and participant engagement
    Session lead: Andy Wong, MRC 1946 National Survey of Health and Development

    • The experience of the Uruguayan Survey of Nutrition, Child Development, and Health (ENDIS)
      Christian Berón and Nathalie Martinez, Uruguayan Nutrition, Child Development and Health Survey
    • In it for the long haul: addressing attrition and boosting participant engagement at TwinsUK
      Paz Garcia, TwinsUK
  • C3 Data discoverability: issues in interoperability
    Session lead: Nathan Cunningham, CLOSER Advisory Committee and University of Sheffield

    • Building a consensus on both technical and semantic interoperability
      Jon Johnson, CLOSER
    • Challenges and successes of CESSDA ERIC
      Mari Kleemola, Finnish Social Science Data Archive

16:00 Reflections from the day

16:30 Drinks reception

18:00 Conference ends

Who should attend

CLOSER welcomes longitudinal population study management teams from around the world to attend. To maximise the number of studies represented at the conference, we are limiting places to two delegates per study. All delegates will be expected to take an active role in the discussions throughout the day.

Please note this conference is for those who work for a longitudinal population study team, including Principal Investigators, research staff, data managers, survey managers, linkage and tracing experts, and communications professionals. It is not intended for students or data users with no study management responsibilities.

Registration details

The conference is now fully booked. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, please send your name and the study you work for to Jennie Blows ( who will notify you if any places become available.


CLOSER is a partnership of eight leading UK studies, the British Library and the UK Data Service. We aim to maximise the use, value and impact of the UK’s longitudinal studies by stimulating interdisciplinary research, developing shared resources, providing training, and sharing expertise. We are funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Preparing for the future I: CLOSER’s 2018 conference

CLOSER held its inaugural Preparing for the future conference in December 2018. The event brought together around 70 delegates from across the UK longitudinal community, in both the social and biomedical sciences. Delegates discussed key issues in new forms of data collection, data harmonisation, data linkage, biosample management, impact, and engagement with policymakers. The conference report documents the day’s discussions, and the actions proposed by delegates to address key challenges, and fill knowledge & skills gaps.

The full report and recommendations from the event can be found on our Preparing for the future of longitudinal science page.

Further information

If you have any queries or require further information about this event, please contact our Communications and Events Officer, Jennie Blows (

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