BSPS 2014 – views from the RSUs

Rachel Stuchbury of CeLSIUS and Kevin Ralston of SLS-DSU share their reflections on this years excellent BSPS conference at the University of Winchester.

BSPS 14 from the England & Wales perspective

Rachel Stuchbury, CeLSIUS

Four CeLSIUS staff attended BSPS and promptly dispersed among the six simultaneous sessions available – going to BSPS entails making hard choices among so many tempting possibilities. Did we sneak off and rubber-neck our way round beautiful Winchester at all? If so, we are certainly not going to admit it.

But you’ll be asking – did we give any presentations? No, not one. We claim this is because we are worker bees rather than honey bees (and definitely not queens). OK, we did muster three posters between us. But personally I spent much time listening admiringly to my SLS and NILS colleagues, a dazzlingly bright lot and a shining example to the rest of us. How they get all that research done as well as supporting large numbers of user-led projects is a mystery.

In addition, of course, we CeLSIUS types sigh with envy at the expanding array of interesting data being linked to SLS and NILS, unlike the dear old LS which hasn’t had a new type of data linked for many decades. (But watch this space, there are agents provocateurs at work.)

On the positive side I was also able to admire presentations of many LS projects which have been supported by CeLSIUS. I’ve lost count but there were around eight of them and all of a quality that would make the heart of any worker bee swell with pride. Which is not to say that I always understood them – some of these young PhD students can pronounce three- and even four-syllable words while simultaneously using a screen pointer, they will certainly all be professors one day and let’s hope they still remember and love the Longitudinal Studies then. But signs are good; it was gratifying to hear the three Studies mentioned so frequently. Apart from in-house events I’ve never been to a gathering where such a high proportion of attenders appeared to know about them.

Will we be going to BSPS next year? You bet. Wherever it is, and whatever the weather’s like, we’ll be there. We might even manage to stand up and say something.

Rachel Stuchbury


Second time at the BSPS

Kevin Ralston, SLS-DSU

This year saw another successful British Society for Population Studies conference from the point of view of the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) research group. I managed see a bit of the historic town of Winchester on the afternoon of the conference dinner. A combination of the weather, the beautiful location, the convenient transport links together with the spellbinding scientific output on show made this one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended.

As usual many of our team were involved across all stands of activities at the conference. I presented: Assessing the potential impact of markers of social support on levels of ‘excess’ mortality in Scotland and Glasgow compared to elsewhere in the UK from a project involving Zhiqiang Feng, Chris Dibben and David Walsh at the Scottish Public Health Observatory.

Dr Beata Nowok presented: Generating synthetic microdata to widen access to sensitive data sets: method, software and empirical examples. This project also involved Gillian Raab and Chris Dibben, and Dr Nowok showcased the results of the SYLLS project which, amongst other things, provides and curates the R package ‘synthpop’ that generates anonymous synthetic data. This is particularly useful for anyone involved teaching and projects using sensitive data.

Dr Zhiqiang Feng gave a presentation entitled The long‐term impacts of NEET experiences on health: evidence from the Scottish Longitudinal Study. This is part an ongoing project for the Scottish Government and involves me, and Chris Dibben.

There were also two SLS posters on show, with Dr Lee Williamson hosting the Progress and developments of the Digitising Scotland (DS) Project poster. Meanwhile, Susan Carlsey presented An Introduction to the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS).

In addition to these contributions Dr Zhiqiang Feng, in conjunction with Celia Macintyre from the National Records of Scotland, also ran a training session in How to analyse UK census flow data.

This sample of output illustrates what an outstanding year it has been for the team and we look forward to next year’s conference where the continued development of our work should mean we maintain a large presence.

Kevin Ralston

Note: Information on all  SLS, NILS and ONS LS presentations and posters from BSPS 2014 can be found in our outputs database


Kevin Ralston, SLS-DSU

This was my first time at the British Society of Population Studies (BSPS) conference. This is somewhat of an indictment considering my PhD examined the timing of first birth in Scotland. However, it was not a conference that was on the radar of my research group at the University of Stirling, which was more focussed on the field of social stratification, as a result I had overlooked the BSPS, although I was lucky enough to attend the BSPS postgraduate conference, popfest 2010, when it was hosted at St Andrews. Therefore, it was with some enthusiasm that I looked forward to this year’s conference hosted at the University of Swansea.

A little time has passed since the conference now and my view would be that the event was well organised and provided a very high standard of scientific research. As I would have expected something is provided for everyone with an interest population studies. Sessions on fertility, mortality, methodology, migration, ageing and historical demography, to point to just some of the themes of interest, mean that for anyone in the UK, and beyond, whose work is related to the subject areas covered by the BSPS have a strong incentive to generate a lasting connection with the Society of Population Studies. One delegate who I talked to was particularly complementary of the poster session which was organised around drinks and food. In contrast to other conferences where posters might be peripheral to the event, he felt this really brought the posters into the heart of the meeting. This is a nice touch as posters take as much time and energy to produce as other forms of dissemination and provide valuable insight into what research is going on.

Happily the Longitudinal Studies Centre Scotland (LSCS) were well represented across the sessions, particularly by Dr Beata Nowok who presented two talks and a poster as well as chairing a session. Indeed the Tuesday morning parallel sessions saw a triple clash for our Director, Dr Chris Dibben, with three talks involving LSCS researchers based on work involving Dr Lee Williamson, Dr Tom Clemens, Professor Gillian Raab, Dr Zhiqiang Feng and me all competing for attention. Also, the first CALLS Hub training event took place introducing the three Longitudinal Studies to attendees. Therefore the BSPS continues to be a particularly successful conference from the point of view of the LSCS.

The University of Swansea campus provided a practical backdrop to the meeting and its situation on picturesque Swansea bay gave delegates the chance to catch some fresh seaside air on a beach that was two minutes’ walk away, and the town of Mumbles at one end of the bay, with Port Talbot at the other. Even the weather played its part with sunshine throughout. All in it was a very enjoyable conference.

Link to the conference website:—Swansea/2013-Conference—Swansea.aspx

Link to the programme:—Swansea/Complete-programme-with-timetable.pdf

Kev Ralston


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