Integrative Data Analysis Through Coordination of Measurement and Analysis Protocol Across Independent Longitudinal Studies

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Abstract

Replication of research findings across independent longitudinal studies is essential for a cumulative and innovative developmental science. Meta-analysis of longitudinal studies is often limited by the amount of published information on particular research questions, the complexity of longitudinal designs and the sophistication of analyses, and practical limits on full reporting of results. In many cases, cross-study differences in sample composition and measurements impede or lessen the utility of pooled data analysis. A collaborative, coordinated analysis approach can provide a broad foundation for cumulating scientific knowledge by facilitating efficient analysis of multiple studies in ways that maximize comparability of results and permit evaluation of study differences. The goal of such an approach is to maximize opportunities for replication and extension of findings across longitudinal studies through open access to analysis scripts and output for published results, permitting modification, evaluation, and extension of alternative statistical models and application to additional data sets. Drawing on the cognitive aging literature as an example, the authors articulate some of the challenges of meta-analytic and pooled-data approaches and introduce a coordinated analysis approach as an important avenue for maximizing the comparability, replication, and extension of results from longitudinal studies.

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