Preparing for the future of longitudinal science ShareThis

On Thursday 6 December 2018, CLOSER hosted a one-day conference entitled Preparing for the future: Tackling the key challenges facing the UK’s longitudinal population studies, at the Wellcome Trust in London.

Future challenges facing longitudinal community

Around 70 delegates from across the social and biomedical sciences came together to deliberate over key issues facing longitudinal population studies now and in the future. In a set of solutions-focused discussions, the delegates addressed shared opportunities and challenges in several areas:

  • New forms of data collection: the potential of new technology, and the skills and knowledge needed to harness these opportunities.
  • Data harmonisation: the scientific value of retrospective and prospective harmonisation, and the importance of collaboration in achieving this.
  • Data linkage: the solutions needed to overcome practical barriers to realise the potential of linking administrative and survey data.
  • Biosample management: the role of collective action in making the most of precious, exhaustible resources.
  • Policy impact and engagement: the need to build better relationships with policymakers, and document the contributions of longitudinal evidence and data to policy development.

Conference report

The conference report documents the day’s discussions, and the actions proposed by delegates to address key challenges, and fill knowledge and skills gaps. The Executive Summary provides an overview of the key points raised.

Related news and blogs

Preparing for the future of longitudinal population studies

How CLOSER can help the UK’s longitudinal population studies meet the challenges facing them in the future
Dr Lisa Calderwood


Next steps

Both individual and collective action is needed to prepare for the future challenges of longitudinal science. The actions outlined in the report can be taken forward by studies, funders and others. CLOSER will continue to play a central role in bringing the longitudinal community together to assess needs and drive progress.

In January 2020, CLOSER will host a second collaborative conference for the international longitudinal population studies community which will build on discussions from the first conference. The purpose of the conference is to nurture relationships between studies, share knowledge and learning in key areas of study management, and develop shared solutions to challenges we all face.


CLOSER is grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust for supporting the conference.