Some specialised thematic networks already exist and the objective of this proposal is not to replicate what has successfully been done elsewhere. The focus of this network will be on large scale and generalist cohorts, and its originality will lay on the inter-disciplinarity of the themes to be covered: researchers involved in these studies tend to find ways to reconcile through one survey social, health and environmental aspects of child development. The expertise and the synergies with existing cohorts and networks will be sought and is necessary to develop sound discussions on methodologies, but the European Children Cohorts Network will primarily aim at bringing together large scope cohorts and their specific working questions. The network will focus on methodology aspects of data collection through cohort methods, including the tools used to collect the data.
Within this context, the European Child Cohort’s objectives will be to
1) Enhance the visibility and the synergy between children cohorts and among the different European teams involved in them.
2) Identify the best expertise in Europe on cohort methodology. Links between large-scale and generalist cohorts will be strengthened, but the objective is also to call on the experience of limited-scale, regional cohorts, or very specific epidemiology and medical cohorts which may have already encountered similar methodology issues.
3) Perform a mapping exercise at European level of the methodology diversity and similarities in order to identify common methodological, scientific and ethical questions.
4) Making the network a single access point of expertise for Child Cohorts in Europe, able to gather a scientific community of interested stakeholders and to diffuse methodology advise for potential new comers.
5) Initiate new and in-depth collaborations between scientific teams which could lead to comparative analysis, using common questionnaire modules, develop standardised questionnaires, and identify potential issues where comparative analysis could be undertaken.
The achievements of the network will be to increase awareness and knowledge, by providing a forum for discussion and an easy access to world-class expertise in the field. It will create and consolidate a scientific community working on a very specific field and producing data. It will also participate to the convergence of cohort study in Europe and on the comparability of data at European level on a policy-relevant issue : child development.