Defining and Measuring the Quality of Longitudinal Surveys

Publication type

Conference Paper


Quality Issues in Longitudinal Surveys Seminar


Publication date

October 31, 2002


In the UK, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funds academic surveys and supports the UK Data Archive, which provides data services relating to government, academic and commercial surveys. The ESRC plays an important role in influencing and enabling the collection of social survey data and in ensuring that data are stored and made available to researchers. Some of the ESRC's major investments in data collection involve long-term longitudinal studies.

In 1999, the ESRC created the UK Longitudinal Studies Centre (ULSC), based at the University of Essex. One of the objectives of the ULSC is to maintain and improve the quality of UK longitudinal social surveys. In order to fulfil this objective, the ULSC has formulated a quality framework for longitudinal studies and has begun developing quality profiles for longitudinal studies. In the long-term, the intention is that the regular production of quality profiles should form a vital part of an on-going system of assessment, review and quality improvement.

This paper will describe progress to date with this project. It will include discussion of the content and purpose of the quality framework, the development of a standard quality profile and the production of a pilot quality profile for the British Household Panel Study. Many of the issues raised are generic but a number are either unique to longitudinal studies or have particular importance in the context of longitudinal studies.

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