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



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