About the project

CLOSER, the home of longitudinal research, brings together world-leading longitudinal studies to maximise their use, value and impact and improve our understanding of key social and biomedical challenges.

Enabling change over time and across generations to be better understood

CLOSER brings longitudinal data together in a consistent format – a process known as data harmonisation. This allows researchers to compare data from different studies, providing insights into how and why the UK is changing over time, and what this means for the future.

Enhancing insights through data linkage

CLOSER leads research to link data held by government departments to survey data collected by longitudinal studies across a range of areas, including health, geography, and education. Linking this data enables researchers to gain rich insights into how different aspects of people’s lives interrelate.

Helping researchers find data

CLOSER’s flagship resource, CLOSER Discovery, enables researchers to search and browse questionnaires and datasets from the UK’s leading longitudinal studies to find out what data are available in unprecedented detail.

CLOSER Discovery:

  • Holds longitudinal metadata covering survey and biomedical data collection, including detailed information on survey questions, instruments and variables, and the links between them.
  • Categorises those metadata according to standardised naming conventions, including classification by subject or topic.
  • Uses the DDI-Lifecycle international metadata standard, which is designed to mark-up cohort and longitudinal studies.
  • Provides links within and across the studies’ metadata, enabling researchers to see whether a question has been used more than once within a study, or by multiple studies.
  • Allows users to produce a list of variables and directs them to where they might obtain the data.

Equipping the next generation of scientists

CLOSER provides training and capacity building opportunities for researchers and those running longitudinal studies. The Learning Hub has information and resources aimed at those in academia, government and the third sector to help them better understand the value of longitudinal research and how to use the data.

Supporting innovative research projects

CLOSER supports projects that use longitudinal data to investigate a wide range of areas of interest, including obesity, physical activity, mental health, and social media.

Maximising the impact of longitudinal research

CLOSER works to ensure the greatest possible impact for its outputs and activities, as well as research and evidence from longitudinal studies. This is achieved by engaging with policy makers, producing longitudinal resources for the academic community as well as facilitating research that addresses the biomedical, social, economic and environmental policy challenges facing the UK.

Our contribution

  • Principal Investigator: Rebecca Hardy, University College London
  • Co-Investigator: Louise Corti (until January 2021), Darren Bell (from January 2021), UK Data Service
  • Manager USP: Veerle van den Eynden (until June 2020), Jeannine Beeken, UK Data Service
  • Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Project dates: October 2012 – March 2022