Exploring and Analyzing Monitoring the Future Data: A Primer


  • Patricia Berglund, University of Michigan
  • Devi Putcha, University of Michigan
  • Deborah Kloska, University of Michigan

The Monitoring the Future (MTF) project is a long-term epidemiologic and etiologic study of substance use among the nation’s youth and adults. Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse since 1975, the MTF project has collected data annually from nationally representative samples of high school seniors. Beginning in 1991, similar surveys of nationally representative samples of 8th and 10th graders have been collected as well. In all, approximately 50,000 students annually respond to about 100 drug use and demographic questions, as well as to about 200 questions on subjects such as attitudes toward government, social institutions, race relations, changing gender roles, educational aspirations, occupational aims, and marital plans.

The MTF project also includes a longitudinal panel study component. Biennial follow-up mail surveys have been conducted with subsamples of about 2,450 respondents from each senior year class since 1976, spanning ages 19 to 30. Each subsample is randomly split in half, to be followed every other year, meaning that one-half begins its first follow-up the very next year at modal age 19, and the other half of the sample begins its first follow-up in the second year at modal age 20. Respondents receive the same survey form for follow-up as they completed as high school seniors, and the follow-ups continue biennially through age 30.

The three-day workshop will introduce participants to the MTF cross-sectional data (public-use and restricted-use) and the restricted-use longitudinal panel data available from the ICPSR/NAHDAP archives. The workshop will cover the content of MTF public release and restricted-use data, study documentation, data management and analysis planning, and a variety of analytic techniques appropriate for data derived from a complex sample design. The workshop format will be a combination of lectures, discussion and demonstrations followed by guided lab sessions for participants to work with a subset of the MTF restricted-use data.

Prerequisite: Strong interest in analyzing MTF data for publication in peer-reviewed journals or similar reports; excellent understanding of descriptive and regression analysis techniques; and demonstrated ability to use SAS, SPSS, R, or Stata software (using coding or syntax rather than a GUI interface) for data management and data analysis. Familiarity with MTF public-use data is helpful but not required.

Eligibility: The workshop is designed for researchers who have an interest in using the MTF restricted-use data.

Software: The course will be taught using SAS 9.4. We anticipate that users of other software can generalize to their statistical software of choice.

Application: Admission to this workshop is competitive. Enrollment will be limited to 20 participants. Apply using the Registration tab (at the top of the page) to provide your information, select the course, and provide your quantitative/statistical experience. Also, please upload the following documents with your application:

  • Current curriculum vitae
  • Cover letter summarizing your previous experience with the MTF data, your research interests as related to the use of the MTF restricted-use data, and how attending this workshop will help meet your research or educational goals

Deadline: Application deadline is Friday, June 5, 2020. Successful applicants will be notified by Monday, June 15, 2020 of their acceptance.

Registration Fee: There is no registration fee for this course


  • Registration: 8:30am Monday
  • Course: 9:00am - 4:00pm Monday and Tuesday, and 9:00am - 2:30pm Wednesday

Tags: MTF, Monitoring the Future

Course Sections

Section 1

Location: ICPSR -- Ann Arbor, MI

Date(s): July 20 - July 22

Time: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


  • Patricia Berglund, University of Michigan
  • Devi Putcha, University of Michigan
  • Deborah Kloska, University of Michigan