Data harmonisation involves recoding or modifying variables so that they are comparable across research studies.
What does harmonising data involve and why is it important?
In order to make full use of the cohort and longitudinal studies that we have in the UK, we need to be able to make comparisons both within and across studies. Repeating the same longitudinal analysis across a number of studies allows researchers to test whether results are consistent across studies, or differ in response to changing social conditions.
Cross-cohort analysis helps us understand more about societal change and how changes in the policy environment impact on outcomes for individuals.
What are the challenges?
Different studies have used different methods to collect information on important aspects of respondents’ lives. For example, measures of household income and measures of some senses, such as vision, are collected in quite different ways both within the studies over time and crucially, across the separate studies.
What is CLOSER doing about it?
Under the data harmonisation work stream, CLOSER is currently working on projects across multiple research themes to produce new data resources including guides to cross-study data comparability and harmonised datasets.
The harmonised datasets are made available to download from the UK Data Service, some with special licence access.
For more details on the different projects, see the research themes below: