Data Use Guidelines

We share data with a large number of collaborators, who live in many countries, and who work at many different levels of training and expertise. The purpose of this memo is to instruct students who are embarking on their first research project, and to remind senior professors who are embarking on their nth research project. We have listed here the practices that help to keep our working relationships comfortable and productive. We hope they work for you too.

Please label all documents as; LASTNAME_COHORTNAME_Projectname_DayMonthYear

Once you have reviewed the instructions, you can find the Concept form template, here.

Data Use Guideline

We are pleased to share data with you! The purpose of this document is to provide information about how to work with data from our research studies and about how to prepare a concept paper. This document is intended to help standardize the conduct of research among trainees and collaborators. We ask that everyone follows all policies and procedures listed below. And, of course, we are here to help answer any questions along the way. Thank you!

Temi Moffitt              Avshalom Caspi                      HonaLee Harrington      Antony Ambler
Professor/PI             Professor/PI                            Data Manager                Data Manager           



Discuss your idea with Temi or Avshalom to ascertain its general feasibility.

Familiarize yourself with the Dunedin and E-Risk studies’ “Policy & Procedures Handbook”.



Prepare a brief concept paper for your study.  The CP template can be found here.

Temi will distribute your concept paper to all stakeholders and invited co-authors.

When all response-form approvals have been returned to you, you have a project, and the research may proceed.

Concept papers are posted on our public website and this constitutes pre-registration.

First authors are responsible for keeping all the signed copies of the concept paper. You need them to know who should do a mock review when the manuscript is completed (see Step 9).

Neither the Dunedin nor E-risk Studies are public-domain data sets. You may not share your data file with others, and by signing the concept paper you agree to this restriction.



Researchers who are not co-investigators of the Studies can propose data-analysis projects, with a sponsor who is a co-investigator. The nominating PI sponsor takes responsibility for all activities of the project with respect to the Study, and this is a serious responsibility. Thus, one consideration in approving a concept paper is the capacity of Study co-investigators to sponsor a number of projects.

In the Dunedin Study, researchers not employed by the University of Otago who access Dunedin data must be appointed as Associated Investigators (AI) of the Dunedin Unit, as required for ethical reasons explained in the Unit Handbook. Temi and Avshalom must nominate you for this formal appointment, and submit an application to the Director and Scientific Advisory Group of the Unit for review. It is not automatically granted to everyone. Discuss with Temi and Avshalom whether they can nominate you for AI status. If not, then your collaboration must include a Study co-investigator who agrees to physically analyze the dataset for your paper. If you are not an AI, you must follow the steps in the rest of this document with the help of a person who holds an appointment at the Dunedin Unit.



For research funded by the US NIH (all Dunedin and E-Risk projects) it is a requirement that all investigators have completed a research ethics training course in human subjects protection, responsible conduct of research, or equivalent. By accepting data from us to analyze, the researcher should understand they are attesting to us that they have completed research ethics training. If you have not yet taken a course, it is easy to do so by going to:


Consult the electronic data dictionary and read previously published papers from the Studies to get information about the data you plan to use. The Study websites have searchable lists of publications.

Think carefully about statistical analyses you will perform. Suggested reading: Thomas & Peterson (2012). The Value of Statistical Analysis Plans in Observational Research: Defining High-Quality Research From the Start. JAMA 308, 773-774.

When you place your request for data, take the time to carefully consider which variables you will need and discuss this with Temi and Avshalom. The best proposals are those that carefully outline a set of well justified research questions and request the appropriate number and types of variables required to test the research questions.


Upon receiving a data file, immediately run descriptives. Check frequency distributions (and missing values) before using.

Report any bug in a file in writing to the data manager.

Please annotate your code-scripts and command files, so that others can retrace your steps later.

Save all code and output.

Consult with us about ways to handle missing data.

If you create a new variable from the raw data, please give it the follow features:

variable name ending with a number indicating the assessment age wave
variable label with data source for the original constituent data
e.g. Mother or teacher report, DSM4 based diagnosis, Average of …, Sum of…
value labels for the coded numeric values (e.g. 0 = no, 1 = yes).

Examples: dxmde38   Major depressive episode, dsm4, age 38



Don’t re-create the wheel; use our existing boiler-plates for the “methods” section for consistency across publications.

STROBE checklist for best practice in reporting observational studies.  On the checklist, please report the page number where each item has been fulfilled.  The checklist can be found here.

Name the manuscript file with your surname, a short handle for the project, and the date, spelling out the month (because the middle number can be day in the USA and month everywhere else). For example:  Beckley_Victimoffender_4Sept2017.doc. When published add the journal name. For example: Beckley_Victimoffender_JDLCC_10April2018.doc.

Include page numbers on every version of your manuscript.



Acknowledge all appropriate individuals, agencies and grants on your manuscript. This is not an option; it is required by our funding agencies. Acknowledgement for Dunedin projects can be found on the here.  Be sure to obtain funding information (e.g., fellowships, training grants) from all co-authors.



All manuscripts undergo a reproducibility check. Checking will be carried out by an independent checker, using a fresh copy of the original data set, separate from the data set with which you have been working.  The checker will attempt to create your code from scratch, by reading a copy of your manuscript. The goal is to re-produce all the numbers in the paper, without looking at your code. Please review the document, “Reproducibility Stat Check for Dunedin and E-Risk Papers,” which can be found here.



Temi or Avshalom must approve the draft before Temi circulates it for mock review.

Temi sends a copy to all co-authors for review and approval, allowing 3 weeks to review the paper.

All Dunedin papers must be approved by Unit Director.



Consider running your abstract through AI software such as Elsevier journalfinder, Springer journalsuggester, or Wiley find-a-journal. Editors have dashboards that use AI to check fit to the journal (and that also check for grammar and spelling mistakes), resulting in desk rejection.

Lodge dated copies of the submitted paper and letter to the editor in a folder under your name on the Z drive publications folder at Duke. If you don’t have access, give these docs to Temi, who will file them.

Lodge a copy of the STROBE checklist along with the manuscript.

Lodge a copy of your code with the data manager along with a file containing any newly constructed variables.

Before uploading your manuscript to a preprint server, please discuss with Temi and Avshalom.



Send the editor’s letter and reviews to all co-authors and invite co-authors to comment or contribute to the revision process.

Temi or Avshalom must approve the revised draft before it is sent back to the editor. We do not ordinarily distribute revisions to all co-authors, unless co-authors request to see these, or if the revisions are extensive and contain new or different information.

Repeat Step 10.



Send a copy of the paper to all collaborators, give the citation for their CV in the e-mail.

Deposit your analysis file, code and new variable descriptions with the data manager.

Delete the data file. Collaborators may not retain data files.  The data remain the property of the Study and cannot be used for further analyses without express, written permission. The data manager will archive your file for you, should you need it again in future.

PMCID application for open access in USA: You must apply for PMCID. NIH requires that all published papers that are (a) peer-reviewed, and (b) credited to the support of a NIH grant, must be lodged in PubMed Central for public access. As soon as your paper is in press, go to the website and upload a WORD preprint copy of the manuscript, along with the grant number(s). This will get you the PMCID. You do not wait for the publication or page proofs to come out.   Learn more here:

Open access in the UK/EU:  Because we have grants from the UK, we also must do two additional things. First, we apply to KCL to pay the costs of open-access. Second, we post a WORD preprint on the KCL-Pure site.  Speak with Temi about how to meet these requirements.



When you receive a copy-edited version of the manuscript, review this with Temi or Avshalom.

When you receive page-proofs, get someone to help you check it.  This is the last chance you will have to catch mistakes. Don’t have to retract your paper because of a copy-editor’s mistake.

Once published, please send a PDF of the paper to all co-authors.

If media coverage is expected, consult with Temi about drafting a fact sheet for journalists.

Deliver copies of all media articles, or websites, to Temi. We need to report these to funding agencies.

 If you give a lecture or presentation about your work, please notify Temi of the title, date, and context of the presentation. We need to report these to funding agencies.

Thank you for reading this document. We share data with a large number of collaborators, who live in many countries, and who work at many different levels of training and expertise. The purpose of this memo is to instruct students who are embarking on their first research project, and to remind senior professors who are embarking on their nth research project. We have listed here the practices that help to keep our working relationships comfortable and productive. We hope they work for you too.

 Temi, Avshalom, HonaLee, and Antony