We investigate methods for data-based selection of working covariance models in the analysis of correlated data with generalized estimating equations. We study two selection criteria: Gaussian pseudolikelihood and a geodesic distance based on discrepancy between model-sensitive and model-robust regression parameter covariance estimators. The Gaussian pseudolikelihood is found in simulation to be reasonably sensitive for several response distributions and noncanonical mean–variance relations for longitudinal data. Application is also made to a clinical dataset. Assessment of adequacy of both correlation and variance models for longitudinal data should be routine in applications, and we describe open-source software supporting this practice. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.