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Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Resource Centre 2015-20
Funding is requested for the continuation of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), from 2015-2020, as the ESRC resource centre responsible for three British birth cohort studies. The 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS), the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) and the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) are major national, indeed international, data resources and form a core part of the UK's portfolio of longitudinal studies. This proposal builds on the existing strengths of CLS as an efficient site for cohort maintenance, data preparation and documentation, user support and engagement, training, capacity building and methodological advice. There is a strong scientific rationale for continuing to gather data from these cohorts. Each new survey enhances the value of the existing study and allows for further analyses examining how experiences and circumstances in early life may impact on later outcomes. Data collection: We aim to collect data from each cohort between 2015 and 2020: BCS70 at age 46 and 50, NCDS at age 60 and MCS at age 17. NCDS and BCS70 now have about 10,000 adult subjects each, and are coordinated to collect very similar information, allowing cross-cohort comparisons. In 2012, there was a 60-minute, face-to-face interview survey of BCS70 members at age 42 and, in 2013, a sweep of the NCDS cohort at age 55 that involved a web survey followed by telephone interviews for those not responding. MCS followed children at roughly two-yearly intervals up to the fourth survey at age 7 in 2008. This study, starting out with nearly 19,000 babies, has most recently collected data on approximately 13,000 children at age 11. A major survey of MCS members in 2014-15 is under development, and is projected to reach 12,000 individuals (this survey has been covered by a previous funding application). Tracking cohorts: Keeping in touch with members of the three cohorts over time is key to maximising response rates. CLS maintains address databases for each study, and we have recently extended our use of administrative data for tracking cohort members by using NHS records on BCS70 (at age 42) and MCS (age 11) and the National Pupil Database on MCS (age 11). As this was highly successful we plan to use administrative data for tracking all three cohorts in future. We will also continue to improve the websites we have established for members of each cohort. Dissemination and Exploiting data: We have a carefully considered strategy for ensuring that data from the cohort studies are fully exploited by a wide range of users. Consultation conferences will be held, and working groups established, to ensure that the data collected are relevant to policymakers and other potential users. Workshops and conferences will be organised to publicise the datasets, provide training in their use, and to share the results of analyses. The CLS website, offering data documentation, and a searchable bibliography, will continue to be important for sharing information about the studies. We will develop and redesign the site, guided by careful monitoring of its use via Google Analytics. Media coverage of the cohort studies has proven to be an effective way of reaching many of CLS's target audiences, including policymakers, practitioners and the general public. CLS will continue to issue press releases on new publications and findings, and will make increasing use of social media. We also plan 'new data campaigns' for the MCS age 14 and 17 surveys, the NCDS age 60 survey, and the BCS70 age 46 survey, to raise awareness of newly available data. Impact: CLS recognises the importance of monitoring, recording and publicising the impact of its studies and has detailed plans for widening the scope of this activity during the new funding period. We will, for example, produce a series of case studies analysing the effect of our work on policy and practice and will establish a special section on the CLS website in order to showcase this impact.
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