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Closer - The home of longitudinal research

Research data

Bird's eye view of lots of people standing apart but connected by linesCLOSER’s suite of longitudinal population studies provides an unparalleled shared research resource. By collecting data at intervals from the same people over their lives, these studies are continuously building an ever-richer data resource that captures how life in the UK changes over time and how events and exposures have long-term impacts. 

Key messages

  • Considerable value emerges when we link the rich and extensive information collected about individuals through their participation in social and biomedical longitudinal population surveys with the detail that comes from administrative data held about the same people. 
  • There are several barriers to accessing data held by government, including legislative uncertainty, resource (including insufficient staff with the necessary data management skills and high staff turnover), out of date data management structures or procedures, and complications and delays with data access requests. 
  • Setting appropriate and well-defined standards is a crucial first step in unlocking the value of data. 
  • The provision and consistent use of metadata to an established standard is fundamental for efficient and meaningful exchange (sharing) of data between organisations. 
  • There is a need for a continued focus by the Government on data quality, common standards, use of metadata, and data skills. These issues should be treated holistically, not as individual, disconnected initiatives. 
  • CLOSER is leading work in collaboration with its partner studies to address such data discoverability and provenance needs through its cross-study Discovery platform, which integrates questionnaire and variable metadata in an open and consistent format. 


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