Regional Report 1997-1998: Europe

Report of the European Regional Secretary


Bridget Winstanley
The Data Archive
University of Essex, UK
May 1998


IASSIST members were involved in a number of projects with European Union funding spanning several European countries.


Peter Burnhill, President of IASSIST, has been involved with the Edinburgh Data Library in CASA, a 4^th^ Framework project on serials and articles and the role of identifiers applied to datasets.

DOSIS programme
Joanne Lamb at the Centre for Educational Studies in Edinburgh wrote to say

“We have two EU funded projects in the DOSIS programme, which is managed by Eurostat, and also two others on comparative analysis of school leavers and labour force data from 6 European countries. So we have an interesting mix of technical development and substantive analysis. We should have two more similar projects starting in the autumn, one of which is an interesting extension as it is looking at the evaluation and dissemination of educational multimedia products.

The Networked European Social Science Tools and Resources (NESSTAR) project is a partnership of The Data Archive, the Norwegian Data Archive, the Danish Data Archive and is under the sponsorship of the Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA). There are associated contractors from Ireland, Spain, and Norway, a total of five in all. The purpose of the project is to develop a set of generic data browsing tools that will make it easier to locate multiple data sources across national boundaries, browse detailed information about these data, tabulate and visualise these data, disseminate these data and documentation in whole or part in forms suitable for immediate use. The Project Coordinator, is Simon Musgrave, now Acting Director of the Data Archive.
ILSES project
Since ILSES (Integrated Library and Survey Data Extraction Service) was reported upon for the 1997 Regional Report, the following progress has been made:
  • All modules for content providing (bibliographic references, data documentation and linking the two with thesaurus based keywords and direct links) have been finished.
  • Data documentation can also be imported and exported in the DDI format.
  • The module for end-users is well under way (access with different views to the integrated information on publications and data ; subsetting and automated dataset building across time and across regions).
  • User testing is planned for by end of 1998.

ILSES can be found at . Further information is available from Repke de Vries, e-mail .

The European Centre for Analysis in the Social Sciences (ECASS) is funded as one of only two large-scale facilities in Europe for research and data analysis in the social sciences, it is supported by the Training and Mobility of Research (TMR) Programme of the European Commission. Interested researchers from Europe can apply for travel and subsistence grants to come to Essex to undertake research for periods of one week to three months using the resources available at the University of Essex.

ECASS is an interdisciplinary research centre which conducts and facilitates the empirical study of social and economic change by integrating longitudinal and cross- national European datasets, providing support services required for their analyses, and acting as the host for major substantive research programmes, primary among them being longitudinal household panel and time budget studies.

The Centre is coordinated by Marcia Freed Taylor, email:



Irish Data Archive Feasibility Report

In January 1997, the Royal Irish Academy commissioned The Data Archive to assist in assessing the feasibility of setting up an Irish data archive. Kevin Schurer, an independent consultant, carried out the work in close collaboration with The Data Archive. In March 1998 the report was launched at a seminar at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. The event was opened by Professor John Jackson, chairman of the Irish Social Science Research Council, followed by papers presented by Dr Kevin Schurer, Professor Frances Ruane, chair of the National Statistics Board, Dr Michael Marsh of Trinity College, Dublin and by Professor Brendan Whelan, director of the Economic and Social Research Institute. Bridget Winstanley, representing the Archive, participated in the very positive discussion which followed the formal programme.

Ken Hannigan of the Irish National Archive, who is an IASSIST member, played an active liaison role in the production of this report.


Project EconData

EconData started in 1996 as a project by SWIDOC’s Steinmetz Archive. Since the merging of SWIDOC in NIWI, EconData is now run by NIWI’s product group digital data archives. The EconData project, supported by NWO is an initiative for broadening NIWI’s data services to include economic data sets. New services will be established to support economic research, including macro-economics, business economics and economic modelling. In addition the more traditional functions of a data archive, the project puts strong emphasis on data brokerage. The data service will act as an intermediary between suppliers of economic data and data users. This will include suppliers of international data and users of dutch data abroad. For this purpose the project plan includes the establishment of an online register of available data sets, irrespective of whether these data sets are available from the Steinmetz Archive or from other sources.

Up until April 1998 more than 200 economic data have been registered. Descriptions of most of these data sets are available in the on-line database. Since the beginning of the project more than 40 economic data sets have been deposited at the Steinmetz Archive. These data sets are available under standard conditions to users of the Steinmetz Archive.

For further information see or contact the project manager, Albert Bots, e-mail or telephone +31 (0)20 462 8625.

DDDI - Dutch Data Documentation Initiative

With support from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) NIWI started a project to integrate the existing Dutch data documentation procedures of Steinmetz Archive, NHDA and others. The resulting standards and documentation system will follow the latest international examples, including the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI). For this purpose the DDI proposal has been translated into a relational data model. This will be implemented in an Oracle database. The results of this project are expected to be available by the beginning of 1999. Further information is available from Harry Heemskerk, e-mail .

Academical Digital Heritage

The NHDA, now part of NIWI, together with the University of Leiden conducted a study on the long-term preservation of the digital resources of Dutch universities. The study has been conceived in a national framework, as it was also financed by a national body. The result has been a report, published in February 1998: “Academisch Digitaal Erfgoed” (Academical Digital Heritage). The study focuses on the policy implications of long-term preservation of the digital collections of the university.

Although narrower in scope this research seems to be comparable with the one carried out in the United Kingdom by the AHDS (Digital Collections: A strategic policy framework for creating and preserving digital resources).

Further information is available from Heiko Tjalsma, e-mail .

Dutch censuses 1795-1971

In close cooperation with Statistics Netherlands (CBS) NIWI is working on the digitization of the census results of the Netherlands between 1795 and 1971. Through a combination of data-entry and scanning/optical character recognition techniques, databases are being produced based on the published results. These databases which will become available both on the Internet or on CD-ROM. As a first result the census of 1899 will be published in 1999 on the occasion of the centenary of Statistics Netherlands. After 1999 other census years will follow. Further information is available from Peter Doorn, e-mail .


The Centre for Educational Statistics, Edinburgh

See International projects for news of EU funded work at the CES.

Joan Fairgrieve, who was the Data Librarian for Edinburgh University has recently (re)joined CES, and her insights as a data supplier have been very beneficial to the projects. Further information can be found at the CES home page:

AHDS/The Data Archive

The Arts and Humanities Data Service is funding the implementation at The Data Archive (through the History Data Service) of a DDI-compliant catalogue utilising the Cheshire information retrieval system. This is based on international standards (SGML and Z39.50) and is currently deployed at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Liverpool. This catalogue will interface with an AHDS-wide integrated catalogue.

The Data Archive

Denise Lievesley has left the Archive after 6 years as director. We would like to pay tribute to her tireless energy in the cause of statistical and social science data services worldwide while she was director of the Archive.

Ongoing projects worthy of mention because of the involvement of IASSIST members, are the NESSTAR project coordinated by Simon Musgrave described above under International projects (Simon Musgrave) and the Thesaurus (HASSET) and Opinion Polls projects, both directed by Bridget Winstanley. For more details of these please see

The Archive has compiled a report of the digital preservation needs of United Kingdom universities and research funders which will shortly be available in the eLib programme of studies and as a British Library report. The title of the publication is An Investigation into the Digital Preservation Needs of Universities and Research Funders: the Future of Unpublished Research Materials.


The UK ESRC Qualitative Data Archival Resource Centre was established in 1994 to preserve and encourage the re-use of raw sources of qualitative research data. The Centre locates, assesses and documents qualitative data and where not already publicly archived, arranges for their deposit in suitable public archives across the UK. Information about such sources is then disseminated and the research community is encouraged to re-use data.

After the mid-term review the Centre&‘ss contract was renewed until the end of 2000. Two new appointments have been made: a Senior Research Officer working half-time to help give advice to and support researchers in making plans for archiving data; and an additional data processing officer working half-time.

For more details please contact:
Louise Corti, Manager, QUALIDATA Tel: (+44) 01206 873058
Department of Sociology Fax: (+44) 01206 873410
University of Essex email
Colchester CO4 3SQ


MIDAS (Manchester Information and Data Services) and the national data centres in the UK, along with other data and information providers are working with their funders to develop integrated access to electronic resources to promote their use in higher education. At the heart of this is the Joint Information Systems Committee commitment to a Distributed National Electronic Resource.

As part of this development, MIDAS has recently become a UK mirror of JSTOR, a US organisation providing Web access to full backruns of key journals. These full texts, many of which are social science titles, are available online. It is an exciting development with a commitment to make available 100 journal titles by the year 2000. Julia Chruszcz is Head of the National Services Group at MIDAS and is one of several IASSIST members there.

For more details see