Existing research into speech, language and communication (SLC) is dominated by small-scale studies that use samples that are often unrepresentative of the population. In other domains of education and health, policy and practice has been influenced by research using large-scale birth cohorts, which are datasets that contain information about the lives of several thousand individuals, with data collection starting around the time of their birth and continuing at regular intervals across the lifespan.
The purpose of this seminar series, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, is to promote the use of large-scale international birth cohort datasets to address research questions about SLC, by raising their profile among researchers, policy makers and practitioners with an interest in SLC. We aim to:
• Familiarize researchers, user groups, professionals and policymakers with the existence of the international birth cohort datasets and their potential for SLC-related research;
• Challenge orthodox opinions about SLC that have arisen as a result of using non-representative data;
• Identify ways in which the existing birth cohort data can be used to answer research questions that are relevant to users, practitioners and policy makers;
• Increase the usage of the datasets for research and teaching in SLC;
• Introduce practical skills such as those for accessing and analysing the data;
• Increase research capacity in this area by facilitating attendance by PhD students, early career researchers and practitioners and making the series available online;
• Influence teams collecting future birth cohort data so that SLC measures are included, and are designed in an appropriate way;
• Promote publication using the data.