Monday, 31 October 2011

Update from ONS on the future of the GLF Survey

ONS has recently published a short information note on their progress and intentions regarding the future of the General Lifestyle Survey. The note, called Update to the future of the GLF survey outlines the intention to change the way the General Lifestyle Survey data are collected, seeks to identify the current uses of the survey data, any implications of stopping the survey, and options for alternative information sources.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Track Changes in ORBIS

Bureau van Dijk provides a website detailing all the changes to the ID variable in the ORBIS database. 

Booking now open for ESDS International 7th Annual Conference 2011

ESDS International is holding this year's annual conference on Monday 28 November 2011 at the Institute of Materials in London.

Booking now open (

Programme (

The theme of the conference is Understanding the World: Evidence and Impact, and the event will be an opportunity for users and providers of international data to meet and share their ideas on issues relating to international data research.

This half day event will include a presentation by Gareth McGuinness from the International Monetary Fund on 'Understanding the world economy using Principal Global Indicators and other international data', Toby Green from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development will tell 'The story behind the OECD's Your Better Life Index' and we will also hear NatCen speaking about the 'European Social Survey'.

The programme also includes two 'Meet the Researcher' sessions:

• The poster presentation session is an opportunity for researchers using international data to introduce their work on topics such as 'Are Oil Revenue Funds effective in oil rich countries?', 'The curse of tourism?', 'Openness, Economic Growth, and Human Development: Evidence from South Asia' and 'Impact of Green Energy Policies on Electricity Market: An Econometric Analysis'.

• The second session includes talks on the following subjects - 'The Yield Curve as a Predictor of Economic Performance in Asia', 'The Effects of Economic Reforms on Manufacturing Dualism: Evidence from India', 'Electricity Co-operation and Decarbonisation: The Role of Import and Export in CO2 Reduction' and 'A Comparison of the EU-15 Countries Based on the Stiglitz Report’s Recommendations'

This event is intended to appeal to policy makers, members of the academic community using the international databanks in their research and teaching, data librarians and producers of international data resources. The event is free and open to all but capacity is limited, so booking is essential.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

On-line training in Research Data Management

The Research Data Management Training, or MANTRA project has produced an open, online training course to help disseminate good practice in research data management at the University of Edinburgh and beyond.

What is it?

It is a non-credit, free online course which provides guidelines for good practice in research data management. It consists of interactive online units focused on key concepts of data management. They include video clips featuring senior academics talking about data management challenges. In addition there are practical exercises in handling data within four software analysis environments (SPSS, NVivo, R and ArcGIS), which learners can download and work through at their own pace.

Who is it for?

It is for PhD students, early career researchers, and all others who are planning a research project based on digital data. The course is an Open Educational Resource that may be freely used by anyone. It is available through an open license for rejigging, rebranding, and repurposing.

Who produced it?

The Data Library team at EDINA produced the materials over the course of the past year as part of the JISC Managing Research Data programme. They worked with the School of Social and Political Studies, the School of GeoSciences and the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology to target the resources towards their doctoral training programmes. The Data Library at the University of Edinburgh has been providing research data services to staff and students for over twenty-five years. The data handling software practicals were written by expert data analysts in each software domain. The online module was created using Xerte Online Toolkits, an open source authoring tool.

For more information, see the course website:

Introduction to BHPS using Stata

Date: 28th-29th November
Venue: Social Science Research Centre at the University of Essex campus, Colchester

This course is aimed at new users of the BHPS or those who have so far made use only of simpler aspects of the data. The underlying structure of the BHPS is complex, with various different data about individuals and the households in which they live across time. The BHPS team has tried to make this structure as transparent as possible through the way data is organised. However, even the number of different data sets can appear daunting. This course aims to guide the user through these apparent complexities, and ensure that they can effectively make use of as much of the data as they require for their own research projects.

The main focus is on the data reorganisation techniques required for different types of cross-sectional and longitudinal research, rather than the statistical techniques themselves, but it is informed by the ways in which data require to be organised for different statistical techniques.

Participants will learn about the way the BHPS is designed, which data are collected, how they are collected and how the data are structured and stored. By the end of the two day course, the participant will have a thorough knowledge of the BHPS, from survey design to data-set structure, and will have the tools to make the most of a rich, but complex, data set.

A basic working knowledge of Stata is assumed. For more information and to see course prerequisites please go to the website

Introduction to Understanding Society – the UK Household Longitudinal Study

Date & time: November 29, 2011 13:00
Venue: Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), University of Essex, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK.

To register to attend this lunchtime seminar, or for more details, please email Victoria Nolan The seminar will be held in the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) seminar room (on the ground floor) – it is free of charge and a buffet lunch will be available from 13:00.

This lunchtime seminar will provide an essential overview of the Understanding Society survey and its content, data access, data structure and documentation. It will be of interest to anyone who is planning to access and use the new Understanding Society data for their research.

This seminar provides a fantastic opportunity to get to know the survey and the possibilities for research based on the Understanding Society data. It will be presented by Gundi Knies, a Senior Research Officer at ISER who has been closely involved with the Understanding Society project from the outset. This seminar is an opportunity not to be missed, to be one of the first to gain a detailed picture of the enormous research potential of this new dataset.

Understanding Society now includes the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) sample, thus extending the analysis and research possibilities. Understanding Society greatly improves the range of longitudinal analyses that can be carried out given its larger sample size and its in-built design features such as data linkages and inclusion of an ethnic minority boost sample. For researchers using the BHPS, there is an Introduction to BHPS using Stata course being held at the University of Essex on 28th and 29th November.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Call for Proposals - Kauffman Firm Survey Data Extension - Data Matching

Deadline January 15, 2012

As the Kauffman Foundation nears the completion of its eight-year panel study on new firms in the United States, the Kauffman Firm Survey (KFS), they are seeking interested scholars who would like to extend the core survey data in ways that do not increase the burden on survey respondents. While more than 6,000 variables are included in the confidential version of the KFS microdata, the Foundation recognizes that there are additional opportunities for research that become available by incorporating new sources of data to leverage the existing KFS survey information. Through this grant program we hope to accomplish the following:

* Expand the community of experts involved with the KFS to include scholars with expertise in natural language processing, web scraping, and related approaches;
* Create reusable infrastructure; and
* Use the prototype/demo infrastructure to evaluate the effectiveness of the approach-missingness, accuracy, utility-to expand our understanding of different approaches for matching to existing data sets.

Multiple projects are likely to be funded with individual project budgets up to $50,000 being preferred.

Full details available at

LFS/APS user meeting

The Labour Force Survey/Annual Population Survey user meeting has been arranged for Tuesday 6 December 2011 at the Royal Statistical Society, London.

This meeting, organised by the Economic and Social Data Service, will provide a forum for data users and producers to meet and discuss new developments and exchange information about the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Annual Population Survey (APS).

The morning will include updates from the Office for National Statistics and the afternoon will consist of research papers which used the survey/s.

To view the programme and book a place please go to

Friday, 7 October 2011

Housing and the Local Environment: Introductory guide to large-scale government survey data

ESDS Government has produced a new guide, Housing and the Local Environment: Introductory guide to large-scale government survey data. This guide gives an overview of the large-scale government survey data available via the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) on the theme of ‘Housing and the Local Environment’. The information provided is aimed at researchers who want to use microdata (generally individual or household level data) from the surveys covered by ESDS Government to carry out their own analyses. The guide is available from

Changes to Quarterly Labour Force Survey ID variables

End User License data:

The new release of the QLFS data files for January-March 2011 contain new ID variables/numbers which are designed to improve the confidentiality of respondents, which has some impact on the way in which the data can be used. The new identifiers are:

CASENOP - ‘Case Identifier - pseudoanonymised’
HSERIALP - ‘Number uniquely identifies a household - pseudoanonymised’

These ID numbers are designed to permit users to link household members together, but not to link across waves to create their own longitudinal datasets (users who wish to do this should use the LFS longitudinal files). The household identifier (hserialp) is an identifier which starts at 1 and simply counts up. Common values of this variable across waves no longer indicate that the case is from the same household. The numbers are no longer based on administrative data, and many of these administrative variables have been removed for reasons of confidentiality. Accordingly, previous guidance on how to generate person and household identifiers from these administrative variables has been superceded. It should still be possible to combine datasets in order to increase sample size as variables indicating which wave of the survey the respondent is in and when the respondent entered are still present. However, it is no longer possible to check that individual cases have not been duplicated as a result of failures in the merge process. It is still possible to use the data to identify household membership using the hserialp variable. However, users are reminded that when undertaking household analysis the most suitable data for household level analysis or analyses which involve household context are the household LFS files. All future QLFS datasets will contain these two new identifier variables. A variable called QUOTAP is also available which is the ‘stint number where interview took place - pseudoanonymised’

QLFS April-June 2009-October-December 2010 - these data files contain a new ID number (IDREF) which preceded the new ID variables for the January-March 2011 dataset (see above). IDREF was designed to improve the confidentiality of respondents, which has some impact on the way in which the data can be used. IDREF does not allow linkage between quarters (nor do Casenop and HserialP – see notes above). Please note that there is no household identifier on these datasets.

QLFS 2001-2009 - there are no changes to the ID variables in these QLFS datafiles – they should contain the original QLFS identifier variables (caseno, add, quota etc).

Special Licence (SL) data:

All Special Licence QLFS datasets should still contain the original ID variables (caseno, add, quota etc) so they are not affected by the above changes.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Jobs at Luxembourg Income Study Organisation

LIS, a non-profit cross-national data center located in Luxembourg, is seeking applications for two additional staff persons.

LIS provides access to household- and person-level microdata to researchers interested in cross-national comparisons of income, employment, and wealth. Our microdata are made available through two cross-national databases, the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Database and the Luxembourg Wealth Study (LWS) Database.

The positions involve harmonising and documenting microdata in the areas of income, labour, demographics, and wealth, as well as contributing to the conceptual framework of harmonising cross-national microdata. All staff also participate in LIS training and pedagogical activities.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and the names of three references (with contact information). Send applications via email (, or via postal mail:

Caroline de Tombeur
17, rue des Pommiers
L-2343 Luxembourg


Required background: Applicants should have an advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in the social sciences, economics, statistics or a related field. A first-level university degree in combination with qualifying work experience may be accepted in place of an advanced degree.

Applicants should also have the following:

- substantial experience with microdata, especially producing or harmonising datasets
- substantial knowledge of a major statistical program, preferably Stata
- proficiency in English (the working language in the LIS office)

Priority will be given to applicants with work experience related to:
- income or consumption/expenditure data
- and/or labour market data
- and/or data on assets/wealth/debt
- and/or datasets from middle-income countries

Candidates with various levels of experience and seniority will be considered, and salary will be commensurate.

Review of applications will begin on 2 November, 2011. Applications will be considered until the positions are filled.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Change to General Lifestyle Survey - No more health questions

From the Royal Statistical Society website. For more information and links see

Health Survey for England statistics will be inferior to General Lifestyle Survey says the UK Statistics Authority

The decision by the Health and Social Care Information Centre to cease its contribution towards the costs of the Office of National Statistics' (ONS) General Lifestyle Survey (GLF) and use the Health Survey for England as an alternative survey vehicle "will not produce statistics consistent with those previously available, or to the same quality", the UK Statistics Authority has told Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

In order to reduce expenditure by £300,000, the ONS will remove the questions on health and health determinants from the GLF from October 2011. Consequently, several long standing National Statistics series on smoking, drinking and the use of health services will end.

In its letter of acknowledgement to the Health Secretary (linked from RSS website), the Statistics Authority says it "will assess whatever new statistical series are created" in the place of these series in order to ensure that the standards of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics are met.

The letter explains the Authority's view "that the best way of collecting the statistics is the way in which they have until now been collected, via the GLF. Users of the existing GLF data have previously highlighted the importance of this source, citing its large sample size, the wide variety of variables it offers for explanatory analysis, and the ability to compare data across Great Britain. Although the Health Survey for England includes many of the health related questions from the GLF, it has a substantially smaller sample size, does not allow country level comparisons and does not include such a wide variety of variables for explanatory analysis."