Extension for the Longitudinal Studies Centre - Scotland (LSCS) from 2018 to 2020

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Geosciences



We will continue to develop the Scottish longitudinal Study, extending its potential through the addition of new datasets, expanding its research user base by making the data more accessible via synthetic data and providing access from other national safe havens, whilst building on the infrastructure created by CALLS-Hub.

Our 8 objectives for the 30 month period are to:

1. Enhance the SLS through linkages to new datasets
The key focus of the first year will be the linking justice data to the SLS. Beyond 2018 we will continue investigating with a number of data controllers, the possibility of linking further and higher education data; information on educational attainment in private schools; social security data; diabetes data from the national diabetes database; and care home data. All new linkages to the SLS are subject to approval from the individual data controllers or subject to additional approval from the national-level Public Benefit and Privacy Panel (PBPP) for Health and Social Care.

2. Support access and use of the SLS by researchers, working towards extending access across Scotland
We will continue our high quality support of users. In particular, we will promote the use of synthetic data extracts and improve the efficiency of accessing the SLS data by extending research access to the SLS to the other national Safe Havens. We will also provide web-based resources and training courses that will help make using the SLS easier.

3. Maintain the SLS and the SLS Safe Setting Room
We will continue with the core maintenance tasks of the study including the introduction of thin clients and virtual machines.

4. Promote the research potential of the SLS
We will continue revising and updating the website including new SLS working papers, and outcomes from projects, new training materials. This will cover some of the CALLS-Hub tasks.

5. Promote the impact of the SLS
The SLS already has a track record of directly promoting the impact of its research. We will continue our collaborations with Scottish governmental agencies in promoting research that has public benefits and policy implications.

6. Work with CeLSIUS and NILS-RSU towards a smooth transition taking over CALLS-Hub
We will work with colleagues in CeLSIUS and NILS-RSU to ensure that key parts of CALLS-Hub are maintained and continued.

7. Engage and collaborate with other ESRC investments
We will continue working with other RSUs, Administrative Data Research Centre Scotland (ADRC-S), the ESRC Doctoral Training Network (DTN), UK Data Service (UKDS) and Cohort and Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources (CLOSER) to seek collaboration in data governance and organisation of researcher training.

8. Conduct methodological development work - in particular on historical cohorts to allow longer and inter-censal follow-up
We will undertake appropriate substantive research to promote the potential of the SLS. We will continue to work with colleagues in ADRC-S around extending the synthetic data we can offer researchers (ie long format data) now that it has been piloted by a few SLS projects. We will also extend our non-SLS historical datasets during the period. We will improve the recently added NHS GP postcode data by providing user documentation and derived variables that can be accessed by our researchers.

Planned Impact

The value of longitudinal datasets has long been recognized, and the SLS was created in order to provide a high quality longitudinal research dataset that could be used to provide an insight into the demographic, health and social status of the Scottish population. Scotland had been disadvantaged relative to England and Wales in the poverty of its longitudinal databases (i.e. databases that link individuals' characteristics through time, allowing changing circumstances to be investigated). The SLS, fairly uniquely, allows questions to be asked about the demographic, health and social status of the Scottish population, and the changing pattern.

This is important because Scotland differs considerably from the rest of Britain in a number of ways. For example, on average Scots live in more deprived circumstances, have lower fertility rates, higher teenage fertility rates, and are more likely to live in public housing than people living in England and Wales. In addition, overall mortality rates are higher than the rest of Britain, even when we control for age distribution and the relatively more deprived circumstances in Scotland (commonly described as the 'Scottish Effect' or 'west of Scotland effect'), and deaths from specific causes such as lung cancer and heart disease rank among the worst in Europe. Indeed, lung cancer rates for Scottish women are among the highest in the world. Thus, Scotland provides a unique demographic, socio-economic and health context within the UK, and there has been a lack of research on a number of important topics. These are all issues that can be explored using the SLS and they become especially important as social and health policies continue to diverge between Scotland and the rest of the UK as a result of devolution.

Because of its unique composition and the large proportion of the population it represents (5.3% of the Scottish population as compared to 1% in the ONS LS for England and Wales), the SLS provides benefits to researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines, including social scientists, geographers, health researchers, economists and labour market analysts to name a few (see 'Academic Beneficiaries' above). This impact reaches beyond Scottish academics, with researchers from other UK and European countries already having used the SLS for their projects. Outputs and publications from SLS-based projects are published and presented widely in international journals and at international conferences.

In addition to this academic impact, the SLS has also been used to examine a wide range of research questions feeding into government social, education, health and housing policy. This has included reports and studies conducted on behalf of the Scottish Government, Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, and Glasgow Centre for Population Health. Further over the years researchers from the Glasgow Council, department of Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning, ISD/NHS have been involved in policy-relevant research projects utilizing the strengths of the SLS. The presentations from other SLS-based studies have been given at Scottish Government events, research contributed to a chapter in the Register General's 2017 Annual Review and several discussion papers have been published by the IZA Institute for the Study of Labor. One SLS project 'Consequences, risk factors, and geography of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET)' saw the SLS team work closely with Scottish Government (particularly the department of Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning) from study design to Scottish Government reports. These reports influenced the development of the participation measure and 'Opportunities for All', the Community Jobs Fund, briefing for Ministers including First Minister's Questions and work with local authorities and other Scottish Government departments including health, housing and justice.


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