CLOSER features in German report on importance of longitudinal studies

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Walking tourLeading scientific organisations in Germany have looked to CLOSER in developing recommendations for the future of longitudinal studies in the country.

The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities and the National Academy of Science and Engineering formed a working group to take stock of their country’s current investment in longitudinal research, and to determine the infrastructure required to excel in this field.

The German working group consulted an international panel of experts, including founding director of the Millennium Cohort Study, Prof Heather Joshi OBE.

The report notes the importance of ‘networking projects’ designed to foster collaboration between different studies. It uses CLOSER to demonstrate the importance of cooperation between studies in order to enhance the value and impact of the data as a whole. The report states that initiatives like CLOSER contribute towards meeting the ongoing needs for strategic planning and the continuous exchange between researchers, sponsors and policymakers.

The first recommendation of the report is for Germany to establish a national initiative to strengthen interdisciplinary cooperation in longitudinal research. It also recommends more resources for data harmonisation, documentation and linkage – all central to CLOSER’s work in the UK.

University College London (UCL) was also highlighted in the report as a centre of excellence in longitudinal research, and an example of the ‘synergies’ that can be achieved by concentrating resources, coordination and expertise in a single institution. UCL is home to all four national British birth cohorts, as well as many other leading longitudinal studies.

The authors of the report said, “Political and social players require reliable data as a basis for decisions and to verify the effectiveness of activities and measures…by repeatedly observing the same groups of people over long periods, population-based longitudinal studies can provide precisely such data.

“[These] studies form the backbone of empirical research in the social and health sciences.”

Read the full report

The relevance of population-based longitudinal studies for science and social policies is available on the Leopoldina website.