The UK has a long tradition of collecting longitudinal data, spanning participants born over the last century. This covers studies commencing before the advent of readily available computerisation through to the modern day, and a huge diversity of populations, study designs and scientific rationale. Longitudinal Population Studies (LPS) are also diverse in the level and stability of funding, their capacity to provide best practice in areas such as data management, and their ability to respond to changing expectations for data sharing.
In 2022, ESRC and MRC commissioned CLOSER to assess the state of data across UK LPS and provide insights into what is required to ensure the data is in an appropriate state to support broad data sharing. In addition, the project reviewed data linkage plans and activities across LPS and repeat cross-sectional surveys, such as the election studies.
Published today, the data audit provides a baseline of information to inform funders of the current state of the activities carried out by UK LPS, identifies where gaps exist and improvements may be possible to help plan for future data collection, and highlights the support required for the studies to achieve the funders’ ambitions.
Key recommendations include:
- Studies should be supported to help improve and modernise data management processes and infrastructures, including incentives for using shared resources where possible.
- ESRC and MRC should investigate the development of guidance on best practice for data access and governance to ensure a consistent set of information is made publicly available.
- Studies should register samples at UKCRC to enhance the discoverability of samples in UK longitudinal population studies.
- ESRC and MRC should investigate the development of guidance on best practice for sample governance and sample depletion policy to ensure that a consistent set of information is made publicly available.
- A metadata office should be established to develop and oversee a metadata strategy which sets out clear guidance for studies and data dissemination infrastructures on minimum content and metadata format.