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Research Platforms: Two Diverse Sites-Similarities and Differences

Author(s): Leslie L Roos, Michael Paterson, Lisette Dansereau

Research platforms-efforts providing data and tools to support a number of interrelated, typically longitudinal projects-generate economies of scale for policy research and intellectual synergies. The data science underlying these platforms represents a fascinating combination of political, organizational, “big data”, and design factors. Two highly regarded place-based research platforms-one focused on understanding health and human development (the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, MCHP) and the other facilitating ecology and environmental studies (the Experimental Lakes Area, IISD-ELA) deal with dissimilar scientific and policy problems yet share a number of common elements. Comparisons demonstrate the wide-ranging opportunities for policy research which such place-based platforms create. These platforms enable both experiments and quasi-experiments, make more covariates available, and allow longer follow-up and larger case counts. They generate collaboration and facilitate improving data quality. Regardless of disciplinary roots, platforms expand research opportunities.

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