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

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 hosted a follow up conference and extended the discussions beyond the UK, to studies around the world. The purpose of this conference was to unearth best practice, and identify ways to tackle shared challenges. It was a collaborative, interactive event with a strong focus on problem solving.

The programme was informed by the results of a consultation exercise with UK and international longitudinal studies. Each session involved 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 conference sessions addressed the following topics:

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

Conference report

The conference report documents the day’s discussions and key learnings.


Download the conference abstracts booklet.

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:

12:30 Lunch and networking

13:45 Parallel session B:

14:45 Refreshment break

15:00 Parallel session C:

16:00 Reflections from the day

16:30 Drinks reception

18:00 Conference ends


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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