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Life course of retrospective harmonization initiatives: Key elements to consider

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Madeleine Murtagh, Emeritus Professor Paul BurtonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).


© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press in association with International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease.Optimizing research on the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) involves implementing initiatives maximizing the use of the available cohort study data; achieving sufficient statistical power to support subgroup analysis; and using participant data presenting adequate follow-up and exposure heterogeneity. It also involves being able to undertake comparison, cross-validation, or replication across data sets. To answer these requirements, cohort study data need to be findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR), and more particularly, it often needs to be harmonized. Harmonization is required to achieve or improve comparability of the putatively equivalent measures collected by different studies on different individuals. Although the characteristics of the research initiatives generating and using harmonized data vary extensively, all are confronted by similar issues. Having to collate, understand, process, host, and co-analyze data from individual cohort studies is particularly challenging. The scientific success and timely management of projects can be facilitated by an ensemble of factors. The current document provides an overview of the 'life course' of research projects requiring harmonization of existing data and highlights key elements to be considered from the inception to the end of the project.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fortier I, Wey TW, Bergeron J, Pinot De Moira A, Nybo-Andersen A-M, Bishop T, Murtagh MJ, Miocevic M, Swertz MA, Van Enckevort E, Marcon Y, Mayrhofer MT, Ornelas JP, Sebert S, Santos AC, Rocha A, Wilson RC, Griffith LE, Burton P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease

Year: 2023

Volume: 14

Issue: 2

Pages: 190-198

Print publication date: 01/04/2023

Online publication date: 12/08/2022

Acceptance date: 06/07/2022

Date deposited: 29/03/2023

ISSN (print): 2040-1744

ISSN (electronic): 2040-1752

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S2040174422000460

PubMed id: 35957574


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Funder referenceFunder name
824989European Commission (Research Directorate General, Research Infrastructures)
MR/S003959/1Medical Research Council (MRC)