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D. Counihan in Essex, June 22

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

Brief description of the visit

My name is Dearbháile Counihan and I work as a postgraduate Research Assistant at University College Dublin. My research focuses on the individual, family-level and contextual factors which shape children’s prosocial behaviour across group lines. As an early career researcher, the opportunity to visit the University of Essex for my Transnational Access Visit (TAV) truly opened my eyes to the importance of longitudinal research for studying continuity and discontinuity across the lifespan. With the support of leading experts in panel analysis at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), I was given the opportunity to learn and apply longitudinal data analysis methods using the world-renowned "Understanding Society" dataset.

The project’s topic

During my visit to Colchester, Essex in late June 2022, I was granted access to the Understanding Society dataset- a large-scale panel survey exploring the lives of40,000 households across the United Kingdom. Given that my research focuses on developmental changes in children’s intergroup relations, I was especially excited for the opportunity to access and analyse the Youth datafile which explores the unique perspectives and experiences of young people aged 10-15years. I spent my visit familiarising myself with the dataset and identifying relevant variables for my planned analysis. I was put in contact with the wonderful Dr Cara Booker, who served as my academic collaborator (AC) during my visit.As an extensive user of the Understanding SocietyYouth data, Dr Booker had an abundance of advice to share about the structure of the Youth dataset and the best way to prepare the file for analysis.Merging the Youth datafile with household-level data from the young people’s parents, I examined the influence of parental ethnic socialisation on children's prosocial behaviour over time.

Engaging in further academic activities

I had the pleasure of attending the COORDINATE Summer School the week before my TAV. The summer school was a truly excellent introduction to Understanding Society and involved hands-on workshops and lectures from expert survey methodologists and data analysts working at ISER. In addition to preparing me for my TAV, the summer school allowed me to network with other early career researchers from around the world. I sharedsome lovely dinners with my classmates as we explored the historical town of Colchester together!

During my TAV, Dr Booker kept me well informed about academic activities and events taking place across ISER. Attending the ISER student seminar was particularly insightful as I heard from different PhD students students at varying stages of their doctoral research.

Enjoying the wildlife at the Colchester Campus

Sightseeing in Colchester

During the evenings and on the weekends, I exploredthe lively town of Colchester.Visiting Colchester Castle and exploring the Roman vaults which lie below was certainly a highlight of my trip!

Concluding thoughts

Alongside it’s incredible student life and bustling campus, I would strongly recommend the University of Essex forthose seeking access to expertise in longitudinal data analysisandongoing support from a friendly team ofworld-class researchers!


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