This is amazing!

Coosje Veldkamp external link, project manager of the YOUth Cohort Study external link, and Lilli van Wielink external link, YOUth Logistics Manager, have emerged as real conference die-hards in recent months. Their mission: to inform academics who are doing research on the brain and behavioural development of children of the possibilities of YOUth data.

Coosje Veldkamp and Lilli  van Wielink got the academic year off to a good start in September last year. Location: the beautiful Sorbonne University in Paris. Surrounded by other exhibitors at the conference of the Flux Society for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Coosje and Lilli whipped up interest in YOUth data among visitors to the conference. Next, at the beginning of March 2023: the International Convention for Psychological Science in Brussels. Most recently, they went to the Dutch Developmental Disorders Day that VU Amsterdam organised for researchers of developmental disorders. We were there to provide information and answer questions about the possibilities of using YOUth data for academic research on the cognitive and neuro-cognitive development of children (within the constraints of the GDPR),” Coosje says. As evident from visitors’ reactions to the conferences above, Coosje and Lilli were successful in getting their message across. In the number one spot: “This is amazing!” “We heard that phrase dozens of times each day! And also: “That’s a really progressive approach!” And: “It must have taken a lot of work to collect this dataset and make it available!”

That last response is one of the reasons why Lilli and Coosje believe it is so important for academics to be aware of the YOUth data: “It enables us to further increase the value of the YOUth dataset: the more researchers are able to use these data to answer important research questions, the greater the return that will be achieved on the investments our participants and staff have made and on the financial investments in data collection.”

This is amazing!

Coosje and Lilli also wanted to get researchers to start thinking about the possibilities and advantages of using existing data in general. “As researchers, we are used to collecting our own data, because ‘that’s just part and parcel of the empirical cycle’ and because the use of innovation and creativity in research designs is rewarded. But just how sustainable is this approach? Why don’t we start by seeing whether the data we need for our research are already available elsewhere?” Do the maths. Suppose that 10 researchers are planning to organise 10 separate projects, for which they will need to find participants (who are willing to travel), set up labs and train staff to collect EEG data from 100 children and administer questionnaires and intelligence tests among them too. Also, suppose that this type of data is already available elsewhere, for 1,000 children, and would make it possible to answer the research questions at hand. Clearly, the organisation of 10 separate projects would constitute a very inefficient use of resources like time, money, energy and expertise in this situation. “If you share data, infrastructure and expertise, you can work far more sustainably and, by doing this, reduce the size of your footprint as well!”

This is the future of science!

What about all the travelling Coosje and Lilli do? “YOUth representatives only attend conferences and congresses if they can travel there by train.” Next stop: Copenhagen, the conference organised by the European Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “We’ll be there in June to bring YOUth data to the attention of academics specialising in developmental psychology and adolescent psychiatry!”

For more information about the YOUth cohort, please contact project manager Coosje Veldkamp.

Is this really for free?