Life course studies constitute an important research area for social- and health sciences. In Norway, studies that follow the same individuals over a longer period of time, have been relatively scarce. Through the ACCESS Upgrade infrastructure, researchers and students will gain access to updated and upgraded longitudinal life course data for more than 11,000 Norwegians born between 1922 and 1966. Data from the Norwegian Life course, Ageing and Generation panel study (NorLAG) form the basis of this infrastructure. NorLAG combines survey data with information from public registers addressing key life domains: health and health behaviour, work and retirement, family relations, leisure time, care and quality of life.
The data provide unique opportunities for tracing individuals through different life phases, for analysing role changes and life events over time and for exploring the consequences of societal, demographic and economic change. This way, ACCESS Upgrade will strengthen the foundation for empirical welfare research and provide an important tool for research that can feed into policy goals, such as active ageing, combating social inequalities across the life course, intergenerational solidarity and family-work balances. The upgrade will ensure that researchers have access to data through new systems that are flexible, secure and user-friendly. The infrastructure will also establish meeting grounds where researchers, students and other stakeholders can come together and discuss topics of relevance for the infrastructure.
The portal for NorLAG data (norlag.nsd.no) was launched already halfway the establishment phase of ACCESS Upgrade (January 27th 2020). With this launch, researchers and students gained access to complete survey data (from three waves of data collections: 2002, 2007 and 2017) and annual register data (until 2017). Quality assurance has been ongoing since the launch, and a second version was published Autumn 2021. In 2020 and 2021 the main focus was on documentation of the study and data, in addition to evaluation, improvement and development of technical solutions. The study and data have also been documented through a scientific paper published in 2021 in the International Journal of Epidemiology: Cohort Profile: The Norwegian life course, ageing and generation study (NorLAG) (doi/10.1093/ije/dyaa280/6120386). A new version of the NorLAG file was published June 2022 (https://doi.org/10.18712/norlag_v3) and the Campusfile was made available for download. New registerdata was ordered and delivered from Statistics Norway, which will be cleaned and added to the final update of the data file (Spring 2023). In addition, we conducted several tests of «customer journeys» from accessing the NorLAG portal to ordering NorLAG data, including semi-structured interviews of user experiences. This provided valuable input to technical improvements of the portal. Users and other stakeholders of the NorLAG study are kept informed about the progress and development of the infrastructure through workshops, presentations, and newsletters, in addition to the website (NorLAG-portal).
ACCESS Upgrade is hosted by NOVA at OsloMet - founder of the NorLAG study, and the Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD). From January 1st, 2022, NSD has become part of SIKT: he Norwegian Agency for Shared Services in Education and Research.
This infrastructure project represents an upgrade and expansion of the ACCESS Life Course Database, which aims at facilitating free access to up-to-date, quality assured longitudinal, social science, life course data. Adding new survey and register information constitutes an expansion of the previous ACCESS infrastructure from two to three survey waves and from 10 to 20 years of register data. An important endeavor is to enable increased sharing of these data and integrate them With previous waves. This requires comprehensive data management: data must be cleaned, validated, documented, harmonised with previous waves of survey and register data, and organised and stored in a manner that optimises use for external users. Such efforts require concerted action, a combination of in-depth scientific knowledge and technological innovations in data archiving, embedded in a collective infrastructure. Project partners NOVA and NSD propose a clear sequence of data curation and procedural steps for the establishment phase of the upgraded ACCESS infrastructure: Project management, Data processing, Data documentation, Data storage and sharing solutions, and User communication and involvement. This way, ACCESS Upgrade provides a powerful tool for research and education in Norway, as well as for international research collaborations addressing challenges associated with population ageing. The infrastructure will provide a platform for data sharing between research communities in Norway, which is important for moving a field forward in a way that neither group can do on its own. To facilitate use beyond research, and contribute to evidence-based policy making, ACCESS Upgrade will incorporate specific dissemination activities to engage civil society, industry, policy makers and other stakeholders.