In July 2023 some of the MS Register team travelled to London to host a two-day Data Academy.
Increasingly research into MS requires individuals to have skills in manipulating and analysing large sets of health care data. In order for research to be of a high quality, and for researchers to get the most out of the data they should be using the best tools and techniques available.
By hosting the data academy the UK MS Register aimed to share their knowledge of the ‘R’ statistical programming language, offering attendees the opportunity to learn how to manipulate and analyse synthetic data from the register.
No prior experience was necessary to join the session (except feeling comfortable with data). The goal was that by the end of the course attendee’s knowledge would have increased from ‘zero to hero’, and they would have gained the skills to use R in their own research.
The event was held at the MS Society headquarters in Finsbury Park, London. The turnout was excellent with the team welcoming a range of attendees from health researchers, early career researchers and those working in academia, healthcare or medical research charities.
On arrival the MS Register team provided an introduction to the Register including who the target audience are, what type of data is collected, and why this is so important for research. Examples were also provided showing what can be done with data.
The team facilitated five sessions over the two days. On Day 1 the team led sessions working through an R script and focused on areas such as R basics, data exploration, and data preparation. Attendees were also given the chance to work through some data themselves with MS Register staff on hand to answer any questions.
Day 2 mostly consisted of group work, with the attendees forming small teams to create a poster detailing their work.
One attendee said: “I enjoyed the course a lot, figuring out how to approach organising and cleaning data on R for analysis was a big challenge for me so I found it really helpful.”
UK MS Register PI Rod Middleton said: “It was fantastic to be able to host our 2023 Data Academy at the MS Society offices in July. It was truly exciting to gather together such an enthusiastic, keen group of attendees from medicine, nursing, research and virology. Setting them on their journey to make better use of data collection analysis and publication was very rewarding for everyone involved.”
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