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2011 Census Link beta test


The beta test stage of the project to link 2011 Census data to the ONS Longitudinal Study (LS) is the final test stage prior to release of the new LS Research Database. During this stage, scheduled to run between spring and autumn 2013, a select group of researchers will run approved projects using the new data to assess whether the new database is fit for purpose.

The beta test stage of the project has two primary objectives:

  1. to test the 2011 data for accuracy, comparability and consistency through active analytical use, and

  2. to use the feedback from test participants to inform the decision whether to release the database to the wider research community

The benefits for researchers involved in the beta test include:

  • early access to a unique and rich data source

  • the chance to publish research as part of the public launch of the new database, and

  • dedicated user support from experienced and knowledgeable teams at ONS and CeLSIUS

Applications process

Applications to participate in the beta test are invited from all interested parties. You will need to complete and return an application form (646 Kb Word document) to by 30 November 2012. You can also contact this address if you need any further information regarding the beta test.

Your application should address the beta test selection criteria which are set out in the section below.

The key dates to note for the beta test are:

Date Activity
30 November 2012 Closing date for beta test applications
18 December 2012 Meeting of LSRB to select beta test projects
7 January 2013 Applicants notified of outcome of LSRB meeting
28 February 2013 Relevant documentation and approvals complete for selected projects
March/April 2013 Live running of beta test begins
September/October 2013 Live running of beta test ends
November 2013*

Public launch for new LS Research Database

Researchers able to publish outputs from beta test projects

*Subject to the successful completion of the beta test

The LS Research Board (LSRB) will meet in December to review the applications received and to select the best combination of projects to satisfy a number of pre‐agreed criteria. Membership of the LSRB includes:

  • representatives from a number of key ONS business areas

  • a representative from the Centre for Longitudinal Study Information & User Support (CeLSIUS), the ESRC‐funded LS user support team based at University College London, and

  • a representative from each of the longitudinal study teams in Scotland and Northern Ireland

An independent observer from the academic community will also be present at this meeting to ensure that the decisions made are fair and transparent.

Beta test selection criteria

The criteria to be used in this selection process are summarised below. Applicants will be asked to identify which of the specific criteria their proposals satisfy in the beta test application form.

Essential criteria to be met by each individual project

1. All projects should include a longitudinal element, relating the 2011 Census data to other LS data

2. All project teams should include at least one member with previous experience of using the LS

3. All projects should quantify the effect of item imputation

Essential criteria to be met by the portfolio of selected projects

4. At least one selected project should look to replicate the same or very similar research using all three UK longitudinal studies: the LS, the Scottish Longitudinal Study and the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study

5. Where appropriate projects should produce outputs for England and Wales separately

6. A number of specific variables and topics must be tested by the portfolio of selected projects

These variables and topics are as follows:

i. Geography: comparability and usability of the new geography codes and look‐ups

ii. Migration and mobility within the UK: including address one year ago, second address, workplace address, NHS registration location

iii. International migration: including address one year ago and a range of new migration related variables such as month and year of arrival, intended length of stay, passport(s) held

iv. Identity and ethnicity: including national identity, main language and English proficiency (all asked for the first time), religion (asked for the second time on a voluntary basis), ethnicity (asked for the third time with response classifications revised since 2001)

v. Household composition and relationships within the household

vi. Occupation coding and NS‐SEC classifications

vii. Limiting long‐term illness and general health: including transitions in general health between 2001 and 2011 and the impact of changes in the question asked and the response scale

viii. Caring: including transitions in caring responsibilities between 2001 and 2011

Additional criteria that would be welcomed on project applications

7. Project teams should also include researchers with little or no previous experience of the LS

8. Project teams should involve collaboration between academic groups and government policy departments

9. Projects should address themes of high interest to policy departments such as social mobility, ageing, caring and migration 

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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