ESRC Research Methods Festival

The WP3 team organised two sessions at the 7th ESRC Research Methods Festival, which took place on 5-7 July 2016 at the University of Bath. The sessions were on the topic of non-response in biomarkers collected in longitudinal surveys and brought a mix of experts both in health research using survey biomarkers and in methodological issues linked to this.

Session schedule

10:00 - 12:30, Tuesday 5 July

Biomarker and genetics data in Understanding Society: how can they contribute to social science research?

Speaker: Professor Michaela Benzeval

This presentation will consider the ways in which biomarker and genetics data might be included in social science research across different disciplines– as an alternative to self report health; to investigate biological pathways between social circumstances and health, and; to explore gene-environment interactions - with illustrations from ongoing research with Understanding Society. It will flag new ways of measuring biomarkers currently being explored and some of methodological implications of these.

Inflammation, allostatic load in cognitive ageing and mental health

Speaker: Dr Gindo Tampubolon

Longitudinal ageing studies are increasingly enriched with biomarkers information such as the case with the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Recent experience with understanding mental and cognitive ageing subject to informative attrition will be shared, as well as experience with understanding life course processes when biased and erroneous retrospective information was used.

Providing weights for secondary data analysts: the case of Understanding Society biomarker data

Speaker: Professor Peter Lynn

Collecting biomarkers within a complex multi-purpose survey introduces an extra dimension to the pattern of non-response. This presentation will describe the survey processes that lead to nonresponse to the biomarker collection, summarize the observed patterns of nonresponse, and explain how compensatory weights were developed. Some observations will also be made about the strengths and weaknesses of this approach to weighting.

Missing data in bio-social research: issues, practice and recommendations

Speaker: Dr Alexandru Cernat

Large surveys such as Understanding Society, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the National Child Development Study are beginning to collect biological data to complement information gathered through questionnaires. While this offers great potential it also brings with it a host of unique challenges. We will look at one of the most important such challenges: missing data. In this talk I will present the issues surrounding missing data in biomarkers, current practices and how researchers can make the most of this new source while minimizing assumptions about missing data.

Find out more about the festival.