Extension for the Longitudinal Studies Centre Scotland (LSCS) from 2020 to 2025, part of UKCenLS-RSU call

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

Abstract

The LSCS data infrastructure centre the SLS-DSU is responsible for the development of one of the most exciting LS in the UK and our goal is to maintain and enhance this position as an internationally renowned centre for longitudinal data analysis. We will continue to develop the SLS, extending its potential through the addition of new datasets, promoting to expand its research user base by making the data more accessible. We will achieve this through 5 core functions:
1. Creating data for research - enhancing the SLS through linkages to new datasets
We will continue developing new admin data linkages not just the 2021 Census, with Justice Data and to extend the education data holdings in different ways.

2. Providing the SLS-DSU User Support service - maintaining the SLS & SLS Safe Setting
i) Support access & use of the SLS
We will continue our high quality support of users - from PhDs through to Profs - for the whole life-cycle of projects from application, creation of SLS extracts to clearance of outputs. We will focus on widening access to make the use of the SLS easier, build on the success of synthetic bespoke extracts created using the SYNTHPOP R prog. we plan to roll this option out to all new users. Further, we will extend research access to project extracts to the other National Safe Havens.
ii) Maintain the SLS & SLS Safe Setting
We will continue with the core maintenance tasks of the study, updating databases, software, and hardware, and improve the research environment for researchers. We expect to undertake a large number of linkages to NHS data and will explore the possibility of limited health variables within the SLS.

3. Capacity building - promote the research potential of the SLS
We will continue to provide training events per year, including an introductory and survival analysis - and running them at BSPS/UCL. We will host the annual UKcenLS conferences in 2021 and 2024. As SLS extracts will be accessible via to be held in the National Safe Havens, we plan to run roadshows these universities. We publish web-based resources - we will extend these in the next period including webinars and code sharing.

4. Communications, knowledge mobilisation & impact - promote the impact of the SLS
At the SLS we have a track record of directly promoting the impact of its research. During the next phase in conjunction with the other 2 RSUs we will develop more fully formed communications and impact strategies with more efficient way to measure activity. Our main method is the shared CALLS outputs database. We further plan to promote the impact in several ways: continue production of SLS impact case studies on a subset projects and the creation of an umbrella project to enable fast response tables to policy questions. And we plan to increase public engagement work and our social media profile. We will continue working with other 2 RSUs, maintain links other ERSC investments on joint events (to showcase both value and potential of datasets) and more technical topics.

5. Conducting limited methodological development work
We will undertake appropriate substantive research to promote the potential of the SLS and wider LSCS datasets. We will continue to offer an innovative method (eDataSHIELD) which facilitates joint up analysis of more than 1 LS. Additionally, more technical data linkage and development work is planned to improve efficiency (with NRS). We will increase our holding of other historical LS: expanding the SLS Birth Cohort of 1936 (SLS1936BC), creating the SMS47 Cohort Enhancement (100% data) and Digitising Scotland (DS) data. These datasets provide a unique opportunity for the LSCS, and staff will undertake research on these to produce working papers to help potential users and to promote the potential of the new data.

In conclusion, we look to maintain and significantly extend our LS 'offer'. Continuing to do what we do well -the curation and development of the SLS and high quality support
 
Description As a research infrastructure project at the SLS-DSU we support others in their discovery science, however we do work continuously to improve the effectiveness of our service. Since the 2020 funding extension the LSCS has further worked closely with sister studies the ONS LS (England and Wales) and NILS (Northern Ireland) to ensure maintenance and promotion of the CALLS Hub and the UKcenLS data. We collectively hope to rebrand the CALLS website and now have our annual UKcenLS conference (with 2020 Cardiff conference postponed until 2022, and 2021 was in webinar format due to covid restrictions). We have worked collaboratively with the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR) to provide synthetic SLS data for their training courses and staff from both projects overlap to deliver the SCADR training. We also provide training in the use of the SLS data annually, plus joint UKcenLS training events with the other 2 LSs. However, owing to the (face-to-face) nature of methodological statistical SLS training courses we have paused these. Progress has been made by NRS on processing Vital Events data and by the end of the year we should be able to release Vital Events data up to 2021. Synthetic Data has been available for SLS users for a few years now, but with covid this has been a higher take up to allow home working. Because we had already developed the protocol for providing synthetic data to researchers, we were able to make available synthetic versions of their datasets to work with away from the safe setting. Early feedback on the utility of the synthetic data has been very promising, with researcher describing how they are able to carry out not only the preparation of 'scripts' but also carry out meaningful research. We have created a complex synthetic data teaching dataset which has been used in SLS and SCADR training events and we gained approval from the Public Benefit and Privacy Panel (PBPP) for Health and Social Care (HSC-PBPP) to extend this to create synthetic health data for research projects. Software and resource development and maintenance has continued and we have produced a compiled version of the eDataShield R package including help files. This will help facilitate cross LS studies and potentially cross European studies. Maintenance of the synthetic data R package "synthpop" is ongoing. In light of increased demand, we have also investigated various ways to improve our service. This includes amending our statistical disclosure control (SDC) guidelines to encourage researchers to take on more responsibility for SDC output checking and reducing the workload on support staff allowing them to spend more time with new projects. Prior to lockdown we increased capacity of our safe setting space to accommodate increasing numbers of researchers looking to use SLS data (however we have had to apply social distancing bringing the number of available safe setting PCs temporarily down again). We are now rolling out our service to allow the SLS to be accessed from remote locations using the National Safe Haven have now been obtained (although these are temporarily closed due to covid). Discussions around how this can be extended into the new ESRC safePODS is ongoing. In the next years this may facilitate access to many Universities across the whole of the UK. Further, we are working with colleagues at the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) to create a secure online platform to host the SLS.
Exploitation Route The SLS already has relatively wide engagement with the academic communities and we are now at a stage where we are can now start to use the national network of safePODS (being rolled out across the UK) in other academic institutions and at the National Safe Haven at the Edinburgh Bioquarter. Progress has been made by NRS on processing Vital Events data and we should be up to date within the year. As a unit we hold a great breadth of data over our projects. We also currently have a researcher using our Children of the SLS data sample (COTS). In addition, we maintain a presence on the web and social media with regular Tweets - we have 874 followers. We provide training in the use of the SLS data (and in non-covid times Survival Analysis training using the SLS) annually. Furthermore, we try to promote the SLS to the general public at various science festivals including the ESRC festival of Social Science and the Edinburgh Science Festival (ESF) when completely back in person (as our 2020 ESF event was cancelled and 2021 ESF event declined even though was the same event). The research findings of external researchers using the SLS have been taken forward in a wide variety of ways, all of which are recorded on our SLS website. We also promote these research findings, which are often applied in nature through a variety of knowledge exchange mechanisms including social media, presentations (to academics and government). We continue to make available via our website, packages which are useful to researchers such as eDATASHIELD, synthPOP and the Consistent Areas through time for Scotland (CATTS). Our Data Dictionary is also current and freely available online.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

URL https://sls.lscs.ac.uk/outputs/
 
Description The Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) continues to have wide impact outside of the academia. The SLS-DSU team continue to have impact in terms of data and statistical infrastructure within the National Records for Scotland (NRS). Planning and preparation within NRS for the 2022 Scottish Census data is ongoing and we have been involved planning how the SLS (an NRS product) will be integrated into this process. Importantly, the unique characteristics of the SLS data (i.e. that is contains individuals linked in time) will be used to assist the Census team with quality assurance checks. Over the past few years we have been active in working with colleagues at the electronic Data Research Innovation Service (eDRIS), the National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR) and the NRS Indexing team and have been driving forward innovation in terms of a new and improved way of creating SLS data linkages to the NRS population spine. These approaches are a long term investment and will deliver significant efficiency gains for future SLS data linkage projects including linkages to up to date vital events data (and possibly the 2022 Census). This is also to be used to improve the process by which NHS health data is to be linked to the SLS. Synthetic data, which was developed by the SLS-DSU, continues to be a source of impact and is now being used widely for both training and research purposes including by statistical agencies outside the UK including by Stats Canada. Synthetic SLS data continues to be used for researcher training purposes including being used in a joint week long SCADR/SLS training course run by the two centres annually since 2017 (but not in 2020, and was delivered online in 2021). Since 2018, when a new NRS SLS Project Manager was appointed, this has allowed us to focus on increasing the use of the SLS within the Scottish Policy environment. This has included discussions within NRS about more focused engagement with various Scottish Government people and avenues that we might explore to push this forward. The SLS-DSU team has been working to discuss, promote and invite Scottish Government policy makers to understand and communicate with the SLS including the production of research briefs for policy purposes on topics. We successfully participated in the Scottish Government Evidence in Policy Events in 2019 and 2020, these were positively received and generated requests for additional information. Further, prior to covid we presented on the SLS at Civil Service Live (CSL) which provided us with opportunities to connect with a much wider range of Civil Service and Government allowing opportunities for future collaboration, given things are opening up more we plan to host an exhibition stall at CSL again. To further increase our reach with policymakers we intend to develop a "rapid-response" census data extract which can be accessed quickly to meet policy requirements at short notice and with a quick turnaround, this was approved by the SLS Steering Committee and we have now developed this as the Umbrella Project. We are building on the success of public engagement events from the previous grant period, however, since covid this has proved more difficult. Nevertheless, to link in with the 2022 Scottish Census we ran an outdoor event (part of ESRC Festival of Social Science) focused on starting a conversation with the public around the value of linked quantitative date to look at outcomes of the Woods In and Around Towns (WIAT) Program in a WIAT site. Further public engagement events are being planned. The SLS-DSU has also engaged with a range of audiences through our own training 'Introduction to the SLS' course (with hands-on lab session online) and conference presentations, as well as the 2021 UKcenLS webinar (in place of the UKcenLS annual in person conference due to covid restrictions). Finally, we continue to support researchers and their output. Since the beginning of the SLS Project to date, we have supported 147 projects (including 3 currently in development, of which 1 has the application under review with the SLS Research Board). On a day-to-day basis the SLS-DSU team support our service users in the Safe Setting at Ladywell House. By year, there has been a steady increase in use of the safe setting by researchers, with 2019 being our busiest year so far, had covid not happened we expected 2020 to be busier. Year Number of visits 2009 - 25; 2010 - 83; 2011 - 96; 2012 - 119; 2013 - 76; 2014 - 89; 2015 - 157; 2016 - 249; 2017 - 297; 2018 - 262; 2019 - 316; 2020 - 104, 2021 - 211 2022 - 36 (in Jan and Feb). Obviously with covid in 2020 we had to close our safe setting, then reopened on a low density basis (ie using 2 of the 8 possible PCs) and only 3 days per week. Then in Jan 2021 open 4 days per week and in Oct 2021 back to open 5 days per week. Since the start of the new grant we are also monitoring cancelations, meaning on top of the bookings attended in 2020 we had 53 cancellations and 37 in 2021 (meaning overall 157 bookings in 2020 and 248 in 2021). As such while overall Safe Setting use was down in 2021 from 2019 this can be attributed to the limited capacity, increase in use of synthetic data and cancellations. Our service users have produced 346 final outputs which have been cleared for release into the public domain by the SLS. More recently, our service users have produced 30 final outputs in 2021 and 5 so far in 2022, of which 4 were PhD theses (all in 2021). Our service users disseminate their findings through various channels, such as presentations and posters at international conferences and workshops, invited talks, through publications as well as research and policy briefs all of which would not be possible without the rich data of the SLS. All SLS outputs are recorded online in the SLS-DSU/CALLS Output database: https://sls.lscs.ac.uk/outputs/
First Year Of Impact 2007
Sector Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Title CALLS automated outputs repository 
Description The SLS administrator, Angela Fallon, designed an automated process to log and process cleared outputs. The automated process is in the testing stage with MTC Media and has been adapted to be utilised by the SLS, CeLSIUS and NILS teams. Researchers are prompted to set up a secure user account, select their LS unit, provide the information necessary to clear their output. The system allows a centralised clearing process for each unit (previously output and request forms were emailed to individual staff which would create issues in the case of staff absence). The information entered by the researcher populates a draft entry in the CALLS Output Repository saving the administrative staff time and ensuring the researcher selects their most appropriate key words and has responsibility for supplying all the information necessary to clear their output. The researcher selects the date when their output or just their output listing will appear on the LS websites. Once output is cleared by the data custodians the adminstrator is alerted so they can make a final check to ensure the entry is ready to make live. If no 'publish online after date' is specificed eg. journal submissions, the entry remains in the drafts folder accessible to the LS adminstrators and acts as a list of all entries that need followed up. 
Type Of Material Data handling & control 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Not yet live but it should make the clearing and recording of outputs process more efficient, less time consuming for administrators as well as put more responsibility on the researchers to provide accurate information. In addition, it will help to keep track of outputs which may slip through the net because of the time scale between submission and publication. 
 
Description An Introduction to the SLS Data - Training event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Tom Clemens developed self-learn training materials which were made accessible to registrants via a secure online server with a hands-on lab session using R and synthetic data. Materials included an Introduction to the SLS & what we can do with the SLS, Accessing the SLS & linking health data to the SLS, Education data, the SLS Data Dictionary & bringing in external data to your SLS project. The drop-in open session on 28th Jan, provided an opportunity for anyone interested in using the SLS data to ask questions to SLS-DSU staff about potential new research projects using the SLS data. It was also an opportunity to ask any questions relating to the SLS online self-learn training materials.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-introduction-to-the-scottish-longitudinal-study-sls-data-tickets-1...
 
Description Are school leavers post-school destinations associated with their school attendance during secondary school? Presentation at SLLS Conference by SLS Researcher Markus Klein 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact SLS Researcher Markus Klein presented at the Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (SLLS) online Conference 2021. The conference promotes interdisciplinary and inter-study understanding and collaboration in longitudinal and life course research, and provide a forum for discussion and publication of new ideas about all aspects of this topic. It also promotes new thinking about making measurements comparable across studies and across time, while addressing the ethical and data protection questions that may arise in their use. In addition, it promotes how best to exploit the potential scientific and policy value of comparing findings within and across societies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.slls.org.uk/_files/ugd/df1448_840be8d52e8c43f28f692e89623443f8.pdf
 
Description Presentation by SLS Researcher Katherine Keenan on 'Social inequalities in multimorbidity trajectories in Scotland: longitudinal study using linked census-linked administrative data from middle-aged and older adults' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact SLS Researcher Katherine Keenan (SLS Project 2018_012) presented on 'Social inequalities in multimorbidity trajectories in Scotland: longitudinal study using linked census-linked administrative data from middle-aged and older adults' at the International Population Conference in Hyderabad, India 5-10 Dec 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://ipc2021.popconf.org/abstracts/210635
 
Description Presentation of 'Health Inequalities in British Nurses' by SLS Researcher at IPDLN Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact William Ball, researcher on SLS Project 2014_003 gave a presentation on 'Health inequalities in British Nurses' at the 'International Population Data Linkage Network Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Event)' on 27th-29th October 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Presentation on 'Social inequalities in educational and occupational outcomes in Scotland: evidence using sibling data' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A presentation by Adriana Duta, SLS Project 2018_003 researcher at the 'Research seminar Population and Health Research Group' University of St Andrews on 9th March 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://populationandhealth.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/seminars/
 
Description Presentation on 'What can the health of Nurses tell us about inequalities?' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Power Point Presentation by Dr William Ball, researcher on SLS project 2014_003, at the 'Society for Social Medicine & Population Health Annual Scientific Meeting 2021' (Virtual), 15th-17th September 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://jech.bmj.com/content/75/Suppl_1/A35.1
 
Description Presentation on Emerging Findings from Scottish Longitudinal Study Data from SLS researcher Camilla Barnett 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact SLS Researcher, Camilla Barnett (University of Stirling) presented on 'Emerging Findings from Scottish Longitudinal Study Data' at the 'Advanced Quantitative Research in Education Hub' seminar series at the University of Edinburgh on 8th February 2022. The Advanced Quantitative Research in Education Thematic Hub focuses on education issues in policy-relevant topics such as inequalities and global education and uses comparative, longitudinal and large-scale data. The Advanced Quantitative Research in Education Thematic Hub builds interdisciplinary connections and creates grounds for cross-fertilisation among researchers using advanced quantitative methods.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Presentation on School absenteeism and academic achievement: is missing out on school more detrimental to students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact SLS project 2018_007 researcher, Markus Klein was invited to give a presentation on 'School absenteeism and academic achievement: is missing out on school more detrimental to students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds' to the School of Education at the University of Glasgow on 26th April 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description SLS Researcher Mark Cherrie presented 'Early life exposure to air pollution, cognitive ability and social mobility: Analysis using a 1936 Scottish birth cohort' at European Historical Demography Conference 2022 Madird 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact SLS researcher Mark Cherrie presented on 'Early life exposure to air pollution, cognitive ability and social mobility: Analysis using a 1936 Scottish birth cohort' at the European Historical Demography Conference in Madrid on 4th March 2022.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://eshd2022.eshd.eu/programme/
 
Description UKcenLS Webinar 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The SLS-DSU Team ran the UKcenLS webinar on 10th Dec 2021. The webinar included an introduction to the UKcenLS datasets - from each of the 3 research support units: CeLSIUS, NILS-RSU and SLS-DSU. There were also 3 research talks from researchers using each of the UKcenLS datasets.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ukcenls-webinar-tickets-181771582697
 
Description Understanding sociodemographic inequalities in rapidly developing multimorbidity trajectories in Scotland: an application of sequence analysis 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact SLS Project 2018_012 researcher Genevieve Cezard, presented at the British Society for Population Studies (BSPS) Conference online, 13-15 Sep 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.lse.ac.uk/social-policy/research/Research-clusters/british-society-for-population-studie...