Population Research UK - Skills Development for Managing Longitudinal Data for Sharing

About the project

This Population Research UK project aims to increase and expand the skills and expertise available to support the wider sharing and increased use of Longitudinal Population Studies (LPS) data resources.

Providing training and support for social sciences data producers and owners has deepened our understanding of the challenges and barriers in social science data sharing. Traditionally the UK Data Service takes a proactive approach in preparing research data management training materials: engaging with the target audience, understanding challenges, setting clear and concise objectives and considering feedback and adapting training as and if needed.  We will adopt a similar proactive approach for ‘Skills Development for Managing Longitudinal Data for Sharing’ – a sub-task of the Population Research UK project. This project will develop our understanding of biomedical-specific data sharing barriers, build on existing knowledge and prepare further training materials to be used within the LPS community across social and biomedical sciences.

The project will run from September 2023 to February 2025.


The principal LPS funders, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), and Wellcome, have been working together on how to support activities to further increase the use and value of longitudinal studies that generate population data. In November 2020, the three funders commissioned Health Data Research UK (HDRUK) to undertake a ‘Design and Dialogue’ scoping phase, involving extensive consultation with data users and those running data investments. This resulted in a prospectus (published December 2021) that helped guide activities needed to maximise LPS data use across disciplines through a planned ESRC and MRC joint investment, known as Population Research UK (PRUK)1.

Population Research UK is a new national resource designed to maximise the use of, and benefits from, UK longitudinal population studies across social, economic and biomedical science. Population Research UK is funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Infrastructure Fund and is currently in a commissioning phase.

Meanwhile, ESRC and MRC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), commissioned activities to inform and help address some critical challenges and opportunities facing the LPS community in preparation. They invited a proposal from the UK Data Service to expand and enhance current training provision for LPS data resource management for sharing, with reference to the funders’ Research Data Policies.


  • Carry out a brief audit of existing relevant provision and opportunities.
  • Identify unmet needs through working with LPS representatives and other key stakeholders, encompassing differing arrangements and approaches across diverse studies, using a collaborative workshop approach.
  • Use, build on and learn from existing training provision, including utilising existing expertise, experience and networks, wherever this is located
  • Co-design additional skills development provision modules in priority areas such as data cleaning, management and sharing, data documentation and metadata provision to support data sharing.
  • Convene a group representing a selection of studies across social and biomedical sciences that can be consulted by the UK Data Service and provide input, especially on diversity in practices and approaches.
  • Deliver the training provision, including co-delivery with experts from studies where this is beneficial, with clear evidence of mechanisms to enable all training provisions to be inclusive and support diversity.
  • Gather feedback and learning, and carry out a light-touch evaluation.
  • Document the whole process from engagement, co-design, delivery, feedback and evaluation, to provide learning and future recommendations.

Project members

Principal Investigator: Joanne Webb
Co-Investigators: Cristina Magder, Sharon Bolton
Researchers: Hina Zahid, Beate Lichtwardt, Liz Smy
Admin Support: Oliver Parkes
Communications: Gail Howell