Study Members

This section of the website is dedicated to our study members! By clicking on the sections below, you can check if you really are a member of the study and find out more about the latest phase of the study – including what it means for you. You can also find out a bit more about what the study has achieved and get in touch with us to find out more about the study or ask us a question.

Am I a member of the Edinburgh Study?
The study involved around 4,300 young people who part of the same year group at school in Edinburgh. This group was interviewed every year over a six year period, and then contacted again after they left school when they were aged 24. They were asked to fill out a questionnaire that looked like the ones below. Still can’t remember whether you were a member of this study? Try the following checklist: 1. I was born in 1986 or 1987 2. I attended a secondary school in Edinburgh 3. I started attending secondary school in 1998 4. I remember filling in at least one questionnaire about my life at school If 2 or more of these apply to you, there is a good chance you are a member of the Edinburgh Study. The best way to confirm whether you are a study member is to get in touch with the Edinburgh Study research team at edinstudy.law@ed.ac.uk and we will take a few details from you to confirm whether you were or not.
Why should I take part in the study again?
Taking part in the Edinburgh Study during your teenage years made you one of a unique group of people in Scotland. You went to secondary school just as Scotland was becoming devolved from the rest of the UK. You became a teenager just as the government in Scotland introduced a whole set of new policies aimed at young people. You became part of one of the most important Scottish research projects ever and you have contributed massively to improving the lives of other children and young people in Scotland. By being a member of the study in the past, you have already helped make many positive changes to the lives of children and young people growing up in Scotland today. By giving up a little bit of your time to take part in the study again, you would be helping us to understand how we could improve the lives of young adults in Scotland by ensuring they receive the help they need earlier in life. Before deciding whether to take part, you should read carefully through our Participant Information Sheet.
What is the aim of the study?
The main purpose of the Edinburgh Study is to see how people’s lives change over time and how this influences their experience of crime and victimisation. In previous phases of the study, our aim was to find out whether you were involved in offending behaviour or not, and how this was influenced by:
  • your background and characteristics
  • how you developed and matured over time
  • the type of neighbourhood you grew up in
  • whether you had any contact with the police or other agencies (like social workers or the children’s panel).
Now that you are in your early 30s, this new phase of the study aims to find out how experiences in the teenage years have influenced your life in adulthood. In particular, we want to find out whether involvement in offending behaviour in adolescence (or not) had any long term influence in adulthood, such as school qualifications, job prospects, physical and mental health or generally feeling good about yourself.
What do I have to do to take part?
If you are happy to take part in this phase of the study, complete the Contact Form that was sent to you by post and return it to us in the pre-paid envelope. If you didn’t receive a letter from us, please e-mail us at edinstudy.law@ed.ac.uk. Alternatively, you can complete a secure online version of the form at: http://edin.ac/edinburgh-study.
What will the study involve?
There are 3 stages to the latest phase of research: 1. In the past, we sought permission to collect information about any criminal convictions that study members might have received. This helped us to identify factors from people’s lives that influenced their likelihood of receiving a conviction or not. In winter 2020, we will be collecting updated information on criminal convictions since 2011 (if you have any) from police records for all study members. You do not need to do anything for this stage of the research. 2. In the past, study members completed paper questionnaires about various aspects of their lives. This helped us to understand how different life experiences and personal histories influenced people’s behaviour, experiences, opinions and outcomes. In spring 2020, all study members will be sent a link to a short online survey (taking around 30 minutes to complete) to collect some information about key aspects of what their lives are like now. 3. In previous phases of the study, we interviewed a small number of study members in person. This helped us get a deeper understanding of the sorts of things that shape people’s lives. In spring and summer 2020, we will contact around 200 study members to take part in a face-to-face interview with one of our interview team.
What has the study found so far?
  • Young people living in low income households and those growing up in deprived communities were most likely to engage in violence, even when they did not have a range of other risk factors.
  • Teenagers from low income households were disproportionately more likely to be charged by the police than those who were not.
  • Police charges and youth justice supervision during the teenage years were strong predictors of later poverty.
  • Those involved in persistent violent offending were more vulnerable and victimised in a broad range of ways (difficult family backgrounds, social deprivation, problems at school, various health issues, risky lifestyles, substance abuse, self harm and crime victimisation).
  • That a holistic approach is needed when dealing with children involved in violent behaviour.
  • Young men in their early twenties who had been unemployed for more than a year were more likely to be charged by the police than others. Furthermore, those who were both unemployed for more than a year and known to the police in their teenage years were even more likely to be convicted.
What has the study achieved?
  • Influenced the development of the Scottish Government’s Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) policy.
  • Prevented thousands of children being excluded from Scottish schools.
  • Raised the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland from 8 to 12.
  • Introduced more effective ways of dealing with young people who offend.
  • Helped to reduce youth crime in Scotland.
What does the study hope to achieve in the current phase?
The study hopes to have further impact on government policy in Scotland, especially around the way that young adults are dealt with in the criminal justice system and what supports are available for people in relation to mental health, adverse childhood experiences and growing up in poverty. We also wish to challenge welfare policies that result in inequality of outcomes and ensure that the same people don’t end up in the criminal justice system over and over again.
Where does the funding for the study come from?
In the past, the Edinburgh Study has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Scottish Government and the Nuffield Foundation. Funding for this phase of the research has been awarded by the Nuffield Foundation.
Do I have to take part?
If you would prefer not to take part in this phase of the study, you can decline our invitation to participate. If that is the case, please contact us by email (edinstudy.law@ed.ac.uk) stating that you wish to withdraw from this phase of research. Please include your full name and reference number (at the top of the letter that was sent to you by post). If you do take part in this phase of the study, you are still free to withdraw at any point in the future. We are aware that some people may have physical or other difficulties that make participating in the Edinburgh Study difficult.  We are able to offer some adjustments (such as a telephone interview) to anyone who is unable to complete the contact form or participate in the online survey.  Please get in touch with the Edinburgh Study research team to discuss what support you might need.
Do you have a question for us?
You can e-mail us at edinstudy.law@ed.ac.uk or alternatively you can find all our contact details by clicking here.