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Joint statement of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities and acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering
(2016, 100 pages, 1 Figures, 1 Tables, ISBN: 978-3-8047-3553-8)
Population-based longitudinal studies form the backbone of empirical research in the social, economic and behavioural sciences as well as in epidemiology and health research. As “large-scale instruments” in these fields of science, they serve to test theories and make new observations, while also constituting the basis for evidence-based policy advice.
Such large-scale instruments or indeed “research infrastructures” are extensive and complex research instruments with an at least national, if not international relevance for the respective fields of science. They are intended for long-term use (without striving to thwart scientific creativity), and are available to a large number of users, mainly for scientific purposes.
Germany has increasingly promoted population-based longitudinal studies in the past few years. Due to structural barriers in the research funding system and to the lack of harmonisation of data collection and analysis along with shortcomings in the necessary interdisciplinary education and training, Germany is nevertheless struggling to keep pace with global research excellence. Against this background and drawing on a stock-taking of the current situation as well as pioneering international expert knowledge, the present statement aims at providing recommendations for the structure of research funding and the harmonisation of future research efforts.