Welcome to LifeCourse
LifeCourse has over 40 separate clinical and population-based longitudinal studies, with over 70,000 participants, including multi-generational cohorts. We research how to improve children’s lives, and the adults they become
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Understanding mental health requires a long term perspective. LifeCourse has many cohorts investigating mental health, wellbeing and resilience, including two multi-generational cohorts
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We have cohorts with longitudinal measures of diet, obesity, the cardiovascular system and related socio-economic factors. Cohorts are investigating early life predictors for cardiovascular disease and how to reduce cardiometabolic disease risk – Read more…
When the immune system malfunctions, it can lead to potentially serious allergies, auto-immune diseases and asthma. LifeCourse is home to some of the largest and most comprehensive population health studies of paediatric allergic disease
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COVID-19 has become an emerging area of focus and collaboration for LifeCourse research. To date there has been a rapid and concerted effort to bring LifeCourse cohorts together to facilitate the collection of relevant data
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Welcome to LifeCourse!
The Melbourne Children’s LifeCourse Research Initiative brings together an impressive array of longitudinal cohort studies from the Melbourne Children’s Campus.
This vital platform equips researchers with the tools, collaborations and access to produce more meaningful and robust research.
Explore the outstanding cohorts and data available through the LifeCourse platform to uncover the potential value-add for your research.
The Melbourne Children’s LifeCourse Research Initiative
The Melbourne Children’s Campus is a global leader for lifecourse data, creating an unparalleled resource for informing practice and policy. Being one of the few centres worldwide with such extensive population and clinical studies, we are positioned to address an array of questions central to early life health and development, and its progression throughout the lifespan.
LifeCourse includes over 40 separate clinical and population-based longitudinal studies, spanning 0-35 years (including two trans-generational studies), involving over 70,000 participants, 500 million data points (excluding bioanalyses) and 250,000 biosample aliquots.
These studies have already shaped policy and clinical care nationally and internationally. By bringing these resources together our researchers continue to build our understanding of the burden, causes and consequences of childhood diseases in Victoria and globally.
LifeCourse is jointly supported by The Melbourne Children’s Campus partners: The Royal Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and The University of Melbourne (Department of Paediatrics), with funding from the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.
PhD and Postdoc Training Program
Did you know?
LifeCourse supports a number of postdocs and PhD students undertaking longitudinal research.
LifeCourse is supporting the development of our next generation of longitudinal researchers.
LifeCourse Postdoctoral Fellows and PhD students
The LifeCourse PhD and Postdoctoral Support Program has been designed to support early career researchers while fostering cross-cohort collaborations, team science, and building campus capacity and capabilities in diverse methodologies relevant to cohort data.
With the support of the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation, LifeCourse has been able to fund part-time postdoctoral fellows and PhD students conducting a diverse range of research projects using LifeCourse data.
The LifeCourse Postdoctoral Fellows
The interaction of obesogenic genes and obesogenic neighbourhood environments in predicting childhood obesity and metabolic syndrome
“Happy and Healthy” – molecular profiles of mental wellbeing in childhood and early adulthood
The LifeCourse PhD Students
Prenatal oxidant exposures, oxidative stress and the integration of mitochondriomics in childhood neurodevelopment
Identifying and reducing inequities in educational pathways through socially inclusive community practices
LifeCourse Research Development Program: Seminar Series
LifeCourse runs a seminar series supporting longitudinal research, open to all across campus and beyond.
These seminars are held from 9 – 10am AEST on the fourth Monday of the month. Contact the LifeCourse team to be added to the mailing list.
Did you know?
LifeCourse cohorts make meaningful impact by informing policy and practices across Australia.
LifeCourse encourages and facilitates collaborations across cohorts and disciplinary boundaries.
The LifeCourse platform boasts exceptional data and collaborations across teams and cohorts in three key areas, which are overlayed with an equity and translation lens:
Preventing mental health issues is integral. The breadth of LifeCourse studies at MCRI provides the opportunity to target the pathways that can lead to poor mental health across different ages, backgrounds and situations.
The pathways to developing cardiometabolic health problems begin during pregnancy and early childhood, with childhood obesity being one of the biggest predictors. Supporting healthy habits and lifestyle from a young age, and maintaining this through adolescence provides the foundation for heart health right through the life course.
With more and more Australian children being diagnosed with conditions stemming from alterations in immune function – like allergies, food intolerances and asthma – than ever before, MCRI researchers are on the hunt to uncover the reasons behind this, and to find novel treatments or cures.
COVID-19 Research Response
COVID-19 research has become an emerging area of focus and collaboration for LifeCourse, the Melbourne Children’s Campus and our cohorts.
As part of the larger Melbourne Children’s response, our research focus areas are COVID Immune and COVID Wellbeing. In both of these areas, LifeCourse is supporting collection of additional COVID data from LifeCourse cohorts.
We publish many papers every year, drawing on data from our LifeCourse cohorts and covering numerous topics relating to health and development.
Here you will find just a selection of our recent publications, which illustrate the potential of the LifeCourse platform to enable:
- Research using more than one cohort (e.g. harmonising and pooling data from multiple cohorts, or replicating analyses in multiple cohorts)
- Research crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries and spanning multiple focus areas
Understanding health and development throughout the life course health
How do children’s experiences of adversity ‘get under the skin’?
Researchers used data from the Barwon Infant Study and the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Child Health CheckPoint to understand how children’s experiences of adversity ‘get under the skin’ to impact health outcomes. By using two cohorts that capture different age ranges, researchers were able to provide evidence of a link between adversity and chronic inflammation in both mid childhood and late childhood. Read more about this study here and relevance for the post-COVID-19 recovery here.
The transmission of mental health problems across generations
Spry et al. (2019) pooled data from two rare 3-Generation preconception cohorts: the Australian Temperament Project, Generation 3 and the Victorian Intergenerational Health Cohort Study. This intergenerational data allowed researchers to explore whether a history of depression before conception is linked to vulnerability to mental health problems in infants. Pooling data from across two cohorts gave researchers a unique opportunity to explore intergenerational outcomes in a sufficiently large sample. Read more here.
What are the consequences of early disadvantage for children’s development?
O’Connor et al. (2019) found consistent evidence that socioeconomic disadvantage experienced in infancy can have a lasting impact on cognitive development, even if circumstances later change. Findings were consistent across the Australian Temperament Project and Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, despite these cohorts being recruited two decades apart. Read more here.
Approaches to comparing disease prevalence and risk factors across cohorts
Comparing the frequency of a disease between different cohorts allows us to observe whether the prevalence of a particular condition is higher in one setting in contrast to another, such as metropolitan versus regional areas. Using data from HealthNuts and the Barwon Infant Study, this paper can provide meaningful context for the comparison of prevalence estimates across diverse settings and populations. Read more here.
Informing interventions using life course data
LifeCourse methodology lead Dr Margarita Moreno-Betancur discusses the possibilities for informing interventions by using the “target trial” approach with life course data. This is a powerful tool for designing and conducting analyses to answer relevant questions about interventions in a reliable way. It helps researchers to imagine the randomised trial that they would have liked to conduct and compare this to their life course study.
LifeCourse Data and Access
Did you know?
LifeCourse cohorts hold over 500 million data points (excluding bioanalyses) spanning conception to adulthood.
We provide several avenues for exploring the longitudinal cohorts at the Melbourne Children’s Campus.
Finding out what data are available
LifeCourse cohorts are separated into two broad groups:
- Population-based “Population” cohorts
- Condition-specific or case-control “Clinical” cohorts
Explore our cohorts
The cohorts page offers a bird’s eye view of our cohorts and is a gateway for further information:
- Summaries of the data available across the cohorts in select domains allow you to browse and compare data available across cohorts
- A timeline shows which cohorts were active when
- Want to know more about a particular cohort? Delve in deeper on each cohort’s page to explore their design and data collections
Our measurement library allows you to browse or search the measures used by LifeCourse cohorts, by domain or measure name
Applying for data access
To request access to cohort data and initiate a new collaboration, visit the Data Access page for our data access request policy, and to submit your expression of interest. Data access requests are reviewed in accordance with each individual cohorts’ governance and ethics protocols, holding the security of participant data to the highest standards at all times.
Data Management and Analysis
Did you know?
There are a wealth of experts and resources on campus to assist you with every stage of your data analysis journey, from planning to publishing.
The Melbourne Children’s Campus is home to the Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit (CEBU), an internationally renowned methodological hub for expertise in data management and analysis, particularly biostatistics and epidemiological methods.
CEBU has partnered with LifeCourse to drive methodological excellence in cohort research across the Melbourne Children’s Campus.
Data management FAQs
Are there any guides or protocols I need to follow when developing my data management processes?
CEBU is available to provide information, advice and guidance on managing data (policies, planning, handling data), data management software, database setup, and data capture. Go to CEBU’s data management intranet pages for more information.
Find further information on MCRI’s policies on research conduct and on the management of research data and materials under Ethics and Governance.
What does best practice in cohort data management look like?
Security and reproducibility are primary considerations to ensure best practice in data management.
- Security refers to protecting your data against loss and unauthorised access, in particular protecting the privacy and confidentiality of participant data in accordance with legislative requirements and best-practice guidelines
- Reproducibility refers to maintaining data integrity and ensuring that data are handled and processed in a manner that is transparent and repeatable
Make sure to familiarise yourself with the requirements of the NHMRC and other relevant codes, and ensure you are adhering to all institutional policies.
I’m setting up a brand new cohort, what resources are available to support the development of my data management framework?
A consultation with the CEBU team is a great place to start to ensure a rigorous data management plan. Additionally, register for one of their relevant short courses:
- Research Data Essentials
- Foundations of Health Research Methods
- Stata, R, REDCap (see “Software” below)
My cohort was established some years ago, how can I update my data management system to contemporary standards?
First, ensure that you are meeting all of the data security and privacy requirements. Are all your data securely stored in locations with protection from unauthorised access and subject to regular automated backup?
Consider your data handling workflows and update them to ensure that all of your processes are transparent and support reproducibility. You should have an audit trail that enables you to reproduce all of the steps from original source data through to analysis datasets.
Next, work on documenting your project and its processes, as well as the data, to assist existing and future team members to understand the data and its provenance.
To discuss further, contact the CEBU team.
My cohort is ready to be archived, what do I do?
Once your cohort data are coherently organised and thoroughly documented, collate the critical documents that describe the study and its operation (approved protocols, ethics approvals, SOPs, etc.) along with cleaned datasets and corresponding codebooks.
You may wish to maintain the data in a secure but accessible location within MCRI’s network storage, but also consider archiving into figshare (which can be done privately – see “Software” below) or other data repository platforms.
Contact the Archiving Service Desk for more information about the storage of hard copies of critical documents, such as consent forms.
Are there any central locations where I can store large datasets?
If your study has performed a bioanalysis (e.g. an omic analysis like genome wide SNP genotyping) that produces a large dataset, LifeCourse can offer a central, restricted access, storage location for your data. Contact LifeCourse for further information.
Data analysis FAQs
How can I obtain statistical input on my cohort analysis?
Getting high-level statistical input on your project from its inception to publication is critical in cohort research. This includes:
- Clarification and refinement of the research question
- Development of the analysis plan, including epidemiological design principles and selection of the most appropriate methods
- Reporting and interpretation of analyses
It is also possible to gain hands-on statistical support to conduct analyses.
Haven’t worked with CEBU yet? Get in contact to organise an initial consultation to discuss your research question and potential requirements.
How can I grow my own statistical understanding in longitudinal analyses?
CEBU regularly runs a sequence of three core research methods short courses focused on basic statistical and epidemiological concepts that are critical to cohort research:
- Foundations of Health Research Methods
- Introduction to Biostatistics
- Observational Studies: Modern Concepts and Analytic Methods
To register for one of these courses or read more, click here.
For training in more advanced analytic methods, check out course offerings from the Victorian Centre for Biostatistics (ViCBiostat), of which CEBU is the lead partner.
Where do I begin in planning my cohort analysis?
CEBU has developed an analysis plan template for the design of statistical analyses in observational cohort studies, particularly in life course epidemiology.
This is a useful tool in developing a robust analysis plan for your study.
How do I ensure my analysis is fully traceable and reproducible?
Making sure data analyses are reproducible ensures transparency of the research process and enhances confidence in research findings.
CEBU’s short courses on statistical software (in Stata and R) provide a foundation in reproducible analyses, optimisation of analysis workflow via do-file/script management and file management for version control.
What statistical software is supported on campus?
The two main statistical software packages supported by CEBU are Stata and R. These are the main tools for data manipulation and analysis.
- R is a free, open-source software environment
- Stata can be accessed by researchers based on campus through the MCRI’s network licence. Contact the CEBU administration office to discuss obtaining a copy
More information about both these packages can be found on the intranet.
CEBU offers a number of short courses on both Stata and R – see here for details.
Also check out CEBU’s Stata Tips page.
What data management software is available on campus?
CEBU supports a number of data management software packages. More information about CEBU’s data management resources and support can be found on the intranet.
- REDCap is a popular data collection and management tool that provides a secure, web-based application for building and managing online surveys and databases. It is the go-to system for data capture. More information about accessing and using REDCap can be found on the intranet. See also CEBU’s short course on REDCap here.
- figshare is an online repository enabling researchers to archive or publish research outputs (e.g. analysis code, protocols, presentations) in a discoverable, shareable and citable manner. MCRI has an installation of figshare, accessible here. For more information about figshare, see the MCRI figshare user guide
Can I just use Microsoft Excel to store my data?
Never use Excel for data collection/storage or for manipulating data. Excel is a poor choice in relation to:
- Data integrity: Data easily moved between records with no audit trail
- Consistency: Data type enforcement and validation checks are difficult to implement
- Security: Weak password security and no permission controls
- Usability: No metadata means no direct export to your statistical package
Did you know?
Over 65,000 different biosamples have been collected and stored across LifeCourse studies.
MCRI has a number of resources to help cohorts collect, manage, store and analyse biosamples.
Participant consent will determine what biosamples can be collected, how long they can be stored for, and what analyses can be performed. Refer to your approved study protocols and cohort’s participant information and consent forms. For additional assistance, see Ethics and Governance for contacts and resources or contact the Biobanking Team.
My cohort is collecting biosamples for the first time, where do I start?
The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Biobanking Facility also supports Melbourne Children’s campus research involving biosamples by providing advice and support through study planning, grant application justification and costing, and ethics approval.
The Biobanking Team follows international best practice, in collaboration with the Biospecimens Advisory Committee (BAC), to perform:
- Sample processing
- Sample tracking
- -30°C, -80°C and liquid nitrogen storage
- Sample retrieval
Visit the Biobanking page for more information about the services offered through Biobanking, or contact the team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consult with the Biobanking Team as early as possible for guidance in planning your study, including how to future-proof your collection.
My cohort collected biosamples some years back through a different facility, how do I update our storage and management protocols?
For the storage of biosamples, MCRI provides -80°C freezers as part of its infrastructure. Biobanking administrates the allocation of space to groups, in conjunction with BAC. If you require additional -80°C freezer space, visit the request policy on the intranet. Appropriate sample tracking is a requirement of freezer space allocation.
MCRI uses OpenSpecimen to manage sample tracking on campus. OpenSpecimen replaced the previous system (FreezerPro) in late 2019.
- All information stored in FreezerPro was migrated to OpenSpecimen as part of the changeover
- If samples have been tracked through other mechanisms, contact the Biobanking Team to discuss how you can start using OpenSpecimen
Setup and training sessions with a member of the Biobanking Team is available to support cohorts looking to migrate to OpenSpecimen. Get in touch via email@example.com.
Biosamples in my cohort are now approaching the planned destruction date, what do I do?
Participant consent usually involves a specified length of time that biosamples can be stored for. Refer to your approved study protocols and cohort’s participant information and consent forms. For further guidance, contact the Ethics and Governance team.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on destruction procedures.
I’m thinking of performing a large scale bioanalysis in my study, what do I do?
Examples of large scale bioanalyses include genome-wide SNP genotyping, sequencing, expression analysis (e.g. RNA-Seq) or epigenotyping; proteomics; microbiomics; metabolomics; and metagenomics.
If your study has not performed the type of analysis before and are unsure how to proceed, talking to campus experts is a good place to start. MCRI’s Scientific Services or the LifeCourse team can help in connecting.
How do I share my cohort’s biosamples with an external collaborator?
Cohorts should formalise biosample sharing with external academic, commercial or government organisations using a Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA), which can be organised through the Business Development team.
This does not apply to substantive research collaborations (i.e. where the parties have jointly developed the protocol, created new IP together and plan to co-author publications).
Templates and further information can be found on the Legal page on the intranet. Contact Shari Lofthouse and Yuen Chang from the Business Development team, and they will assist you with the appropriate agreements.
Are you curious?
Researchers at MCRI are finding new ways to collect data and disseminate research.
Paper mail-outs to participants are becoming less frequent. MCRI has a number of ways to support you to innovate your research design, and reach your participants in creative ways.
Research design FAQs
I want to develop a new product or tool for cohort data collection. Who can I speak with to help me bring this idea to life?
MCRI has a Digital Health Translation and Implementation Program which aims to develop creative digital solutions, which are informed by evidence-based research and healthcare professionals.
Curve Tomorrow is a health innovation company which has an ongoing partnership with MCRI, and are located on campus. They are responsible for creating unique and innovative software solutions in collaboration with researchers.
Are you looking to disseminate new products or tools for cohort research in meaningful and impactful ways?
The Business Development team can help you on your way. They can provide insight and assistance with your research product, and answer you queries on intellectual property, licensing, engagement with industry partners, business plans and more! Internal researchers can find out more here.
My study is establishing a new research collaboration. Where can I get help with setting up legal agreements?
Whether you’re in need of a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), confidentiality agreement, research collaborative agreement or a contractor agreement, the Legal team have got you covered. Internal researchers can click here to access a series of helpful templates and policies.
What measures are available for use in my cohort?
MCRI has site-wide licenses for a number of commonly used measures, such as the PedsQL. A number of these have been pre-programmed into REDCap for easy integration into your data collection survey. Find more information here.
I want to purchase a measure for use in my cohort study. Are there any guidelines for doing this?
Contact the Legal team to ensure that the measure isn’t already covered by a site-wide license. If you still need to go ahead and purchase a measure, the Legal team will work with you to ensure all requirements are met.
My cohort study is implementing new design approaches. How can we make sure they align to the appropriate codes of conduct?
Issues and policies surrounding research integrity, conflicts of interest and professional conduct are outlined in MCRI’s Code of Conduct.
MCRI adheres to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, as issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Additional policies and frameworks are in place for ethical breaches and queries regarding misconduct. Find out more here, or if you’re looking for specific advice contact the Legal (internal) or Risk (external) teams.
How can I connect with other cohort managers and coordinators?
LifeCourse hosts a Cohort Coordinators Forum, where cohort coordinators and project managers meet to share knowledge and expertise, and troubleshoot specific issues arising in the cohorts context.
These sessions are held on the third Wednesday of the month.
Please contact LifeCourse if you’d like to be added to the mailing list.
How do I integrate planning for impact into my research design?
The Melbourne Children’s Knowledge Translation and Research Impact Project provides a framework and helpful resources to support researchers in translating their research into meaningful outputs. Click here to learn more and get in touch with the Translation team.
Ethics and Governance
Did you know?
All LifeCourse cohorts are required to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.
On-campus resources are available to assist you in navigating ethics and governance approvals for new or existing cohort studies.
Research Ethics and Governance (REG)
Each of the LifeCourse cohorts have obtained ethics approval through a certified Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).
The Royal Children’s Hospital Research Ethics and Governance (REG), provides a range of templates and guides to support your next ethics application or modification, including advice on informed consent and plain language statements.
The Clinical Research Development Office (CRDO) also provides education and training covering many aspects of the regulatory framework under which research must be conducted.
Ethics and governance FAQs
Do I need ethics approval?
Are you launching a cohort study, planning to collect additional data from your cohort, or acquiring additional data through linkage?
You’ll need ethics approval! Determine which type of application you need to complete here.
But I’m only analysing cohort data, do I really need ethics approval?
Even if not directly collecting your own data, it is more than likely you’ll need ethics approval to work with and publish from the data.
Depending on the nature of your analyses, it may qualify as a low or negligible risk application.
CRDO have some great resources available through their Launching Pad. This includes a template for observational study protocols to guide you in planning and conceptualising your study, including the ethical requirements to consider when working with data from observational cohorts. Find this template and other useful documents on their research resources page.
I already have ethics approval for my cohort study, but want to collect additional waves of data, or need to add to or change the existing protocol.
With long-running studies, ethics approvals generally need to be amended over time as new waves of data collection are planned. For example, you may need to change your study aims or objectives, or add a new data collection method. Find out how to submit an amendment here.
Sometimes, the extent of a change is significant enough that a new application will need to be considered, even for a long-running study. For example, this might occur if the cohort is being repurposed to address a new research question.
If you are unsure about whether a change requires an amendment or new application, or have any further questions, please contact the RCH REG team.
What does informed consent mean for participants in long-running cohort studies?
Because participants remain engaged with cohort studies over such long periods of time, consent is something that needs to be renegotiated in an ongoing way.
This includes, for example, updating participants about changes to how the data will be collected, stored, and utilised. Find out more about informed consent here, including templates reflecting current best practice.
Can I use social media to trace participants who have been lost to my cohort?
Losing contact with participants over time, such as when families move to a new house or change their phone number, is a major concern for long-running cohort studies.
Social media is emerging as one potentially helpful technology available to assist in contact tracing. Click here for guidelines about ethical use of social media in research. Before using social media for your research, be sure to contact the MCRI or RCH Communications team to access their policies and guidelines on social media use.
I am interested in enriching my cohort data through linkage to administrative datasets. What are the ethical considerations?
Linking cohort data to an administrative dataset can add valuable context and meaning to your research. There are a number of ethical guidelines to first take into consideration. To discuss further, please contact the RCH REG team.
How do I complete and submit my ethics form?
Completing and submitting your ethics application must be done through the Ethics Review Manager (ERM). A user guide can be viewed here.
Is there a deadline for my ethics application?
New ‘greater than low risk’ applications are reviewed on the first Monday of each month. See a list of these dates here.
There are no deadlines for new quality assurance (clinical audits) and low and negligible risk applications, the RCH REG office are happy to receive these at any time.
Did you know?
There may be more funding options available for your project than you’re currently aware of!
MCRI’s Grants Office can assist in finding funding opportunities, providing advice on applications, and ensuring administrative and legal requirements are followed.
Funding opportunities FAQs
Where can I find out about potential funding opportunities?
Use the MCRI Grants Calendar and Research Professional to seek out funding opportunities for your cohort research, and come and visit the MCRI Grants Office. Internal funding opportunities are also available.
Where do I start in preparing my application?
The MCRI Grants Office can assist with reviewing the application and ensuring it complies with the funding opportunity guidelines.
Contact the Grants Office as early as possible to discuss your application and follow the process for application submissions. You will need to provide an Internal Approval form signed by your Theme Director and draft for review.
The Grants Office intranet pages are a great resource for planning and writing grant applications including budgeting templates and descriptions of the MCRI research environment.
How do I consider the potential research impact of my project?
Have you determined what the impacts and outputs of your research will be, beyond publications? Have you considered how you will influence science, policy and practice through your research?
If not, get in touch with the Melbourne Children’s Knowledge Translation and Research Impact Project for guidance in outlining and demonstrating your potential research impact to funders.
My funding application was successful – what do I do now?
Congratulations! Let the Grants Office know when you are successful with a funding application. They will assist you with the formal documentation required for the post-award steps your project.
My funding application was not successful – what do I do now?
Take a day to process the rejection of your application. In this competitive environment, funding bodies receive many, more applications than they can fund. In recent major NHMRC funding rounds, over 80% of applications were deemed fundable, however only 11% were successful.
Carefully read any feedback provided and re-read your application – you may uncover weak spots that were not obvious under the pressure of a grant deadline.
And, try again. Develop your ideas, match your project to other funding opportunities or reapply to the same opportunity in the next round; but always try again. Researchers often find that ‘it never rains, but pours’, where one grant success snowballs into further funding success.
Ready to get in touch with the Grants Office?
The Grants Office can be contacted any time, get in touch to discover what opportunities you might be eligible for!
Did you know?
Globally, research paradigms are shifting to adopt Open Science principles.
LifeCourse is taking steps to support an Open Science culture.
Open Science Practices
Open Science is an exciting new frontier which aims to increase the transparency of research processes to advance scientific discovery. LifeCourse is making efforts to move in this direction, while ensuring that best practice ethical and data security standards are maintained at all times.
Open Science includes a number of key principals which are increasingly being adopted throughout LifeCourse working practices. Keep reading to learn more.
What is pre-registration?
A preregistered design includes details of the research design, research questions, and analytic approach. Preregistering does not prevent researchers from shifting course and adapting to new information. Rather, it is a foundation for recording how and why the plan changed.
The LifeCourse analysis plan template provides a framework for stepping through the aims, key variables, and design of an analysis, before it is undertaken.
What can we gain from open materials?
Open materials is about making publicly available the components of the research methodology, like what data were collected and how, and how that data was analysed. This makes study findings more transparent and reproducible.
What do we mean by open data?
Balancing the value of transparency with the need to protect participant data is critical to sharing data responsibly.
LifeCourse has a clear and transparent procedure for researchers to apply for access to the data within our cohorts, that also ensures all safeguards for participants are maintained.
How can we achieve open access to research outputs?
Providing free access to papers and other research outputs online removes cost and access barriers. For example, an increasing number of journals allow for the publication of pre-prints.
LifeCourse researchers have access to figshare, an online repository enabling researchers to archive or publish research outputs in a discoverable, shareable and citable manner.
Meet the Team
Did you know?
LifeCourse started in 2013, to bring cohorts together and highlight their work and achievements.
LifeCourse is managed by a group of researchers and professionals based at MCRI.
Craig was the Founding Convenor of LifeCourse and returned as Co-Convenor in 2019. He leads one of Australia’s oldest longitudinal studies of social-emotional development, The Australian Temperament Project Generation 3, and is National Convenor of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) Longitudinal Studies Network.
David joined the LifeCourse team as Co-Convenor in 2019. He is a paediatric infectious diseases clinician scientist. He is one of the lead researchers on the Barwon Infant Study, Child Health Checkpoint and a number of COVID-19 related projects. His focus is on the early life determinants of infection, inflammation, their role in the development of conditions like heart disease and obesity.
Leanne has been involved with LifeCourse since its inception, and took on the role of Co-Convenor in 2019. Leanne is Head of the Office of the Director at MCRI, which works to initiate, design and deliver strategies, policies and programs for growing research output and quality. Leanne’s role as Co-Convenor ensures that LifeCourse aligns to and is synergistic with other campus initiatives.
Meredith joined LifeCourse in February 2019 as a postdoctoral fellow, before joining LifeCourse full-time as Program Manager in February 2020. She works to support the ongoing growth of LifeCourse’s science, people and systems, as well as undertaking a focused program of research using cross-cohort approaches.
Anna has been a member of the LifeCourse team since August 2014. Her main focus is to work with LifeCourse cohorts, other Melbourne Children’s Campus groups and the LifeCourse team to coordinate the development and maintenance of the LifeCourse portal, collaborative infrastructure, and resources, in addition to sharing know-how with data users and cohorts.
Tehani joined the LifeCourse team in January 2019. Her work on key LifeCourse projects helps to maximise resources, foster collaborations and facilitate effective research across the LifeCourse cohorts. She works with cohort teams to ensure their presence on the LifeCourse website remains relevant and up-to-date. She also works with researchers and cohorts to share knowledge and resources.
Based in the Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit (CEBU)
Dr Margarita Moreno-Betancur
Margarita became statistical lead of LifeCourse in January 2019, as part of LifeCourse’s partnership with CEBU. With the goal of bringing methodological excellence to observational research on campus, she has developed a team within CEBU of postdoctoral biostatisticians that are experts in causal inference and missing data methods. This team supports a range of LifeCourse cohorts and other observational studies.
Marnie started supporting LifeCourse as a postdoctoral biostatistician in August 2020, after completing her PhD in Biostatistics at The University of Melbourne. She provides input on epidemiological design and statistical methods to single- and multi-cohort research projects across a range of areas. Her expertise is underpinned by methodological research in causal inference, conducted as part of the causal team within CEBU.