Innovation and development in longitudinal studies: outputs from the ‘UK Population Lab’ programme

In 2018 the independent, international Longitudinal Studies Strategic Review (LS Review) made a number of recommendations to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) about the future development of existing and new longitudinal studies with a social science focus in the UK.

From October 2018, ESRC’s ‘UK Population Lab’ programme, funded under the UK Research and Innovation Strategic Priorities Fund, commissioned scoping projects following up the LS Review’s recommendations. These included scoping studies, evidence summaries and think pieces.

ESRC is pleased to share outputs from these projects below. We will update this page as further reports become available.

Centre for Longitudinal Studies, University College London

Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) and Next Steps

  • Emla Fitzsimons and Marc H Bornstein — Studying the next generations: the case for following the offspring of MCS and Next Steps, and for studies of grandparenting

See the MCS and Next Steps report.

New Birth Cohort study

  • Alice Sullivan, Heather Joshi and James Williams — New Birth Cohort study: theoretical sampling design options

See the New Birth Cohort study report.

Qualitative research with cohort members

  • Lisa Calderwood, Matt Brown and Kate Smith — Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) cohorts qualitative research

See the qualitative research report.

Novel linkages literature and scoping review

  • Nicolás Libuy and David Church — Geographical linkages
  • Karen Dennison — Embedding CLS cohorts into national linked admin datasets
  • Danielle Gomes — Novel health record linkages
  • Karen Dennison — Review of consent for record linkages

See novel linkages and scoping reports.

Survey methods research: mode and incentives

  • Lisa Calderwood, Matt Brown, Alissa Goodman, Emla Fitzsimons, Darina Peycheva, George B. Ploubidis, Joseph W. Sakshaug, Richard J. Silverwood, Joel Williams and Erica Wong — Executive summary: survey methods research on mode and incentives
  • Lisa Calderwood, Alissa Goodman, George B. Ploubidis, Joseph W. Sakshaug, Richard J. Silverwood — An investigation of item non-response and measurement equivalence in a mixed-mode cohort study: findings from the Next Steps Age 25 Sweep
  • Emily Gilbert, Lisa Calderwood and Emla Fitzsimons — Does mode matter? The impact of using a mixed mode time use diary on data quality and measurement in the Age 14 Survey of the MCS
  • Darina Peycheva, Lisa Calderwood and Erica Wong — Effects of a time-limited push-to-web incentive in a mixed-mode longitudinal study of young adults
  • Erica Ryu Wong — Incentives in Longitudinal Studies scoping review
  • Matt Brown and Lisa Calderwood — Mixing modes in longitudinal surveys: an overview
  • Matt Brown, Lisa Calderwood, Alissa Goodman, George B Ploubidis, Joseph W Sakshaug, Richard J Silverwood, Joel Williams — The impact of using the web in a mixed mode follow-up of a longitudinal birth cohort study: evidence from the National Child Development Study

See the modes and incentives in survey methods research reports.

Survey methods research: new technologies

  • Lisa Calderwood, Emily Gilbert, Emla Fitzsimons, David Bann, Praveetha Patalay and Alice Sullivan — Executive summary: survey methods research on new technologies
  • Charis Bridger Staatz and David Bann – Diet — Opportunities for data collection
  • Alex Vasilichi — Measuring cognition in population-based cohort studies
  • Aaron Kandola and David Bann — Measuring physical activity and cardiovascular health in population-based cohort studies
  • Emily Gilbert — New technologies and innovative methods in data collection scoping review
  • Jessica Rees and Praveetha Patalay — Opportunities for data collection and linkage: mental health
  • Alex Papadopoulos — Quantifying the digitisation of everyday lives: measurement opportunities for largescale surveys
  • Madalina Hanc — Using social media in social research: opportunities for enhancing largescale surveys

See the new technologies in survey methods reports.

Calibration of mental health and cognitive ability measures

  • Emily Gilbert and George Ploubidis — Calibration of mental health and cognitive ability measures

See the calibrating measures for mental health and cognitive ability reports.

Web survey in MCS and design of annual web mailing

  • Lisa Calderwood, Matt Brown, Emla Fitzsimons, Emily Gilbert and Darina Peycheva — Web survey in MCS and design of annual web-mailing: executive summary
  • Darina Peycheva, Emily Gilbert, Matt Brown and Lisa Calderwood — Exploring the feasibility of using Qualtrics to conduct online surveys in the CLS cohort studies
  • Emily Gilbert and Emla Fitzsimons — Initial design of the MCS annual web survey 2019
  • Emily Gilbert and Emla Fitzsimons — MCS Age 17 web-boost survey

See reports on the MCS and web mailing design reports.


  • Jane Maddock, Dara O’Neill, Meghan Rainsberry and Rebecca Hardy — A review of quantitative analytical training needs for users of longitudinal studies

See longitudinal studies reports published by CLOSER.

Ipsos MORI

  • Patten Smith and Faith Jones — New technologies in survey research

See longitudinal studies reports published by Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute.

The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen)

  • Joanna D’Ardenne, Martin Wood and Bruno Pacchiotti — Considering alternative fieldwork designs for a biennial face-to-face longitudinal survey
  • Gerry Nicolaas, Emma Corteen and Byron Davies — The use of incentives to recruit and retain hard-to-get populations in longitudinal studies
  • Curtis Jessop, Dave Hussey, Klaudia Lubian and Martin Wood — Using a targeted design and R-indicators to enhance sample quality in a web-CATI longitudinal study

See NatCen Social Research reports.

The Scottish Centre for Social Research (ScotCen)

  • Rebecca Goldman, Paul Bradshaw, Adrienne Burgess and Konstanina Vosnaki — Recruitment and retention of birth fathers in split-off households: methodological considerations for cohort and longitudinal studies

See the ScotCen Social Research report.

Understanding Society, University of Essex

  • Tarek Al Baghal — Methodological briefing: linking survey and social media data
  • Michaela Benzeval, Jonathan Burton, Christopher Bollinger and Tom Crossley — Methodological briefing: the representativeness of Understanding Society
  • Jonathan Burton and Annette Jackle — Methodological briefing: mode effects
  • Laura Fumagalli — Methodological briefing: understanding the role of temporary sample members for Understanding Society
  • Peter Lynn — Methodological briefing: methods for recruitment and retention
  • Michaela Benzeval et al — Integrated data: research potential and data quality
  • Magda Borkowska — Methodological briefing: improving population and subgroup coverage: who is missing and what can be done about it?
  • Tina Haux and Renee Luthra — Methodological briefing: what is shared care?
  • Anna Horsley et al — Working paper: the acceptability and feasibility of asking monthly ‘life-event’ questions in between waves of a panel study
  • Annette Jäckle, Jonathan Burton and Mick P. Couper — Methodological briefing: event-triggered data collection
  • Paul Fisher — An assessment of the national representativeness of new mothers and women of childbearing age in Understanding Society
  • Alina Pelikh — Birth cohorts in Understanding Society: a description
  • Michaela Benzeval — Enhancing data around early life in Understanding Society scientific opportunities and considerations

Further working papers are expected to be made available on the Understanding Society website.

See Understanding Society reports.

University of Bristol

  • Participant acceptability of ‘digital footprint’ data collection strategies: evidence from the index participants of the ALSPAC birth cohort study

See the University of Bristol report.

Cardiff University

  • Matthew Williams — Acceptability to participants of novel data linkages, ethical issues, and the practicalities of obtaining consent

See the Cardiff University report.

University of Essex

  • Meena Kumari — Collection of biosamples and health data from people in a post-COVID-19 world

See the University of Essex report.

University of Manchester

  • Natalie Shlomo, Chris Skinner and Myong Sook Kim — Theoretical sampling design options for a new birth cohort: an accelerated longitudinal design perspective

See the University of Manchester report.

University of Southampton

Exploring population data for inclusive research

Engaging the public with longitudinal studies

Last updated: 17 August 2023

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