UCL’s ethics committee have now given Decipher My Data the green light for inviting schools to take part in the project. This is the result of 12 months of planning and preparation, including coming up with the project idea, finding funding, specifying the research protocol, and submitting it to the UCL ethics committee for approval.
Now the hard work really begins. At the moment we’re busy finalising and testing the website to get it ready for collecting your data.
Previous studies investigating whether school absences can be used to indicate flu activity in the community haven’t recruited enough schools to definitively answer the question. Therefore, getting lots of schools involved across England and Wales will be crucial to the success of this research project. In fact, we’re aiming to work with around 100 schools, which will be a big challenge.
The major difference between our project and virtually all previous research is that we’re giving the data straight back to you. This means that the team of scientists here at UCL will be looking at it for the first time along with you. The most exciting bit about all of this is that when you analyse the data you’ll have local knowledge that we won’t, you’ll be bring a fresh perspective and lots of bright young minds to the analysis. Nothing would make me happier than if you guys find something in the data that we haven’t. That’s the whole point behind this great project – we’re working on it and learning from it together.
I’m planning to write a series of regular blogs that will highlight our exciting findings as we progress through the flu season. I’ll be here along with the rest of the science team to answer questions about data and analysis. Obviously we’re only a small team compared to all the schools involved, but we’ll do our best to answer your questions. We can’t wait to get started!