Regional Report 2005-2006: Europe

IASSIST Regional Report 2005-2006
European Region

Mari Kleemola
Finnish Social Science Data Archive
May 25th, 2006

European membership |  Cross European Collaborations |  National Reports

This report begins with some observations on the IASSIST European membership. I will then report on a few of the many cross-national collaborations, after which will be country-by-country reports of national/institutional/individual activities. I have only included reports for those people/organisations/countries/projects from whom I have received information.

European membership

There are currently 86 active European members (those that paid their membership fee for 2005-2006). Of these, 22 were new members and 64 were people renewing. The increase in European membership undoubtedly reflects the fact that the 2005 conference was held in Edinburgh.

Cross European Collaborations

Madiera |  Metadater |  CESSDA |  EDAN |  ESS 

Madiera

The Madiera project (Multilingual Access to Data Infrastructures of the European Research Area) was completed in February 2006. The project, funded by the European Commission under the Fifth Framework programme, has provided a portal for the majority of the existing 20+ social science data archives in Europe. Based on thesaurus technology, data can be searched for in nine different languages. (Source: http://www.madiera.org/)

MetaDater

The objectives of the MetaDater (Metadata Management and Production System for surveys in Empirical Socio-economic Research) project were to create a generic data model and standards to describe large scale comparative surveys over space and time, and produce software tools to create and manage respective metadata. The project was funded by EC under the 5th Framework Programme and was completed in April 2006. (Source: http://www.metadater.org/)

Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA)

Ongoing activities include creating a new common data catalogue and renewing the website. The CESSDA Expert Seminar “Preparing and Publishing Metadata” took place in Madrid on 26-28 October 2005. The seminar was hosted by the CIS and there were participants from 18 countries. Included were sessions on creating technical documentation and developing tools, using the DDI metadata specification, preparing and publishing metadata in the CESSDA archives and the CESSDA website renewal.

The East European Data Archive Network (EDAN)

Brigitte Hausstein (GESIS Service Agency Eastern Europe) writes:

  1. EDAN contributed to the IASSIST Session ‘Transforming National Data Services’: Larisa Kosova (RSDA, Russia), Janez Stebe (ADP, Slovenia) and Brigitte Hausstein (ZA, Germany) presented the paper “The data infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe: Current situation and prospects”.
  2. EDAN continued its cooperation project on data documentation: ADS (Warsaw) documented the National Election Study according to DDI.
  3. The Institute for Democracy, Solidarity and Civil Society (IDSCS), Skopje, Macedonia joined EDAN and started to set up a national data archive.
  4. The RSDA celebrated its 5th birthday in December 2005. To present the results of its work an international panel session in the framework of the Annual Conference of the Independent Institute for Social Policy was organised in Moscow.

European Social Survey (ESS)

European Social Survey (the ESS) received the prestigious EU Descartes Prize for 2005 from EU Commissioner for Science and Research for Radical Innovations in Cross-National Surveys. It is the first time that a social science project has ever been short-listed, let alone won, so it is an important breakthrough not just for the ESS but for the social sciences in Europe as well. A US version of the ESS has also been completed, using the same methods and about one half of the questions employed in the ESS. NSD is, as official archive for ESS, responsible for data archiving and services. The project is partly using Nesstar. (Source: http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/)

National Reports

If no other source is mentioned, the following are excerpts from the reports the data archives submitted to the CESSDA business meeting.

Austria |  Czech Republic |  Denmark |  Finland |  Greece |  Hungary |  Ireland |  The Netherlands |  Norway |  Romania |  Slovenia |  Spain |  Sweden |  Switzerland |  United Kingdom

Austria

In the Wiener Institut für sozialwissenschaftliche Dokumentation und Methodik (WISDOM), a long-term program for developing research infrastructures has been developed under the title “Austrian Roadmap for Research Infrastructures in the Social Sciences and Humanities”. WISDOM also created a new electronic journal under the name of e-WISDOM with a main emphasis on comparative reserach. NESSTAR was implemented completely and WISDOM continues to participate as National Coordinator for the European Social Survey. A national research documentation for the social sciences was closed down due to a lack of funding and WISDOM has taken over this research documentation and produced a new web-design for it. Also, a big research project has been completed for the City of Vienna on health and social stratification. In 2005, a long-term program for developing research infrastructures has been developed under the title “Austrian Roadmap for Research Infrastructures in the Social Sciences and Humanities”. Finally, a big research project has been completed for the City of Vienna on health and social stratification

In Austria, 2005 turned out to be a particularly difficult year for funding for social science projects decreased substantially in Austria. Nevertheless, a strong effort was undertaken to get a new program started on research infrastructures at the national level. In particular, several steps were taken to start a network between the data archive in Austria and surrounding countries (Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia).

Czech Republic

The Sociological Data Archive (SDA) continued in transformation of its data services to new technology based on the DDI and the NESSTAR. SDA’s services were extended also to qualitative social research. It was realised along with integration of the archive of qualitative data MEDARD into structure of the SDA. Furthermore, the SDA co-operated in preparation of the research project “Legitimacy of the Political System and Inequalities: The Development in the Czech Republic in Comparative Perspective”. Czech survey of the ISSP 2006 on Role of the Government will be organised within the project in 2006. Other activities included submitting European Social Survey’s Czech 2nd wave data to NSD, ISSP2004 Czech data to ZA, research work connected to the ISSP 2004 survey and participation courses in methods of social analysis at the Faculty of Social Sciences and at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen.

Denmark

During 2005 the Dansk Data Arkiv (DDA) got a grant of € 1.6 million to cover activities in the four years 2005-2008. The grant was given by the ministry of science for the continuation of the archiving of data from health science. To undertake this activity a department called “DDA Sundhed” has been established and 5 new staff members has been employed. DDA participated in the Madiera project with expanding the Danish language part of the thesaurus and providing Danish keywords, in the Metadater project with programming work related to the question variable editor and other programming activities and in the DDI Alliance with a vice chair of the Expert Committee. The Source Entry Project collected demographic data in cooperation with volunteer data entry persons. During the year DDA inaugurated a new Danish language search catalogue and a new study description processing interface was finished and a major project on systematising the Danish keywords found in the study information database and making them more compatible with international standards was set in motion.

In 2005 a major university reform was carried out in Denmark. A prime features is that universities are now ruled by a board with members from industry and other external agents. This board hires the rector who appoints deans etc. Before this reform rector and deans were elected for a term by an electorate internal to the university. The university reform is aimed at making universities more commercially aware under the slogan “From thought to bill”.

Finland

For the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD), year 2005 was the year of projects. The Civil Participation Policy Programme of the Finnish Government generated several projects, and in 2005, FSD started the Democracy Indicator Project that endeavours to define appropriate national indicators for evaluating democratic development in Finland. In addition, a research report with the title “Finnish Citizens” was published in March. It compared citizens’ political and social participation in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and was based on the European Social Survey 2002/2003 data. Another new project is the Web Database of Finnish Political Party Manifestos and Other Party Publications. The Learning Materials project produced a book about legal and ethical aspects of collecting and archiving data and a basic guide to secondary analysis and the Research Methods Web Resource (MOTV) will be expanded to cover qualitative methods. Furthermore, FSD participated in the Madiera project and the OECD data access project. FSD also had a role in the Finnish ISSP2004, WVS fifth wave, ESS and CSES data projects and continued to fund the Finnish membership in the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS).

Hungary

Zoltán Lux (1956 Institute) writes:

The Institutes photographic documentation database was developed further in 2005. Alterations in the data structure now mean that thumbnails and viewing pictures can be downloaded directly into our Oracle-based database, and a new Internet module has been developed as well (http://server2001.rev.hu/oha/index.html).

Exploration of the life’s work of important living Hungarian photographers has begun with funding from the National Cultural Foundation’s Photography Board. The project will include downloading into the 1956 Institute’s contemporary history database oral-history interviews and digitalized photographic documents compiled with the Institute’s professional assistance. We have undertaken in connection with the project to present the publicly accessible part of the material in new content integrated into the Institute’s website (www.rev.hu).

As part of our preparations for the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in 2006, we have taken our chronological database further and developed several multimedia mini-sites that go into specific sides of the Revolution more deeply, again as a development of our contemporary history database.

An earlier development, the multimedia educational CD-ROM entitled “Hungary 1944-1956. In the Middle of Europe-Hungary in the Contemporary Period” won a Euromedia special prize.

Greece

In July 2005, Greek Social Data Bank (GSDB) at the National Centre for Social Research (EKKE) was evaluated by an external evaluation committee. The evaluators were particularly impressed by the GSDB activities and officially suggested particular measures towards its development, independent State financial support, and transition to a National Institution for Social Data. Institutional developments include also a new component that was added to the GSDB system -namely, the Node for Secondary Processing (NSP), which is a tool for publishing data, metadata and supplementary documentation through the web. Through the NSP environment, cooperative work with academic and research institutes in the country is facilitated. The NSP design, philosophy and prospect are discussed in the recent publication: The Node for Secondary Processing: A Comparative Research Infrastructure, Editor: John Kallas, Athens: National Centre for Social Research, 2005. On-going projects include EQUAL, Support mechanisms for the adaptation of enterprises and their employees in the field of tourism, afore-mentioned NSP, and European Social Survey. EKKE also hosted the practical training of 12 sociology students in research methodology and database development.

During 2005 there have been initiatives by the State to prepare a new Law for Research and Technology. Preparative proposals towards this give support to Research Infrastructures in the Social Sciences and set criteria for their accreditation at a National level.

Ireland

Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA) is a component of the UCD Geary Institute, which houses doctoral, post-doctoral, and other research activities in the social sciences. Efforts are currently underway to improve the methodological support offered by the Institute to the researchers housed there, and which is hoped will eventually lead to the establishment of a formal Survey Unit with the capacity to conduct surveys in-house. It is yet to be determined if such a Survey Unit will be run by ISSDA, or run in parallel, with staff shared between the two. It is hoped that the upcoming fourth phase of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions will provide an opportunity to gain additional resources to expand the services provided by ISSDA.

The Netherlands

Heiko Tjalsma (DANS) writes:

Summer 2005 DANS, Data Archiving & Networked Services, was created in The Netherlands. The former Steinmetz Archive, Netherlands Historical Data Archive (NHDA) and WSA, the data-agency handling data files from Statistics Netherlands, have been merged into DANS. DANS is a joint initiative of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). At the moment its mission is restricted to social sciences and the humanities.

The organisational model of DANS is that of a network with a strong core. As a new feature DANS is setting up thematic development programs, in collaboration with research groups, in which research data in a certain domain are archived and made accessible. This leaves the responsibility for an important part with the researchers. In the case of archaeology an initiative was taken by the discipline itself, leading to the eDNA project: a national depository of archaeological data files in The Netherlands. Archiving data is to become a networked activity: this can take place both in the central data archive at DANS, as in the earlier data archives, and in local data repositories. Networked archiving data needs a “data archiving quality mark”. DANS is working on this as well.

Another new feature is the development of a Two-Stage archival process, Easy Store and Deep Store. The Easy Store is a facility in which researchers can upload data files and metadata themselves into the DANS data repository Datasets can be archived and republished relatively quickly. A subset of data will be archived and published extensively in the Deep Store, for instance through the NESSTAR system.

Norway

Norwegian Social Science Data Services Ltd. (NSD) has recently launched a new service where data is made available on the Internet. The system offers the possibility for online analysing by use of Nesstar downloading the data sets for analyses with other softer packages. NSD has also received funding from the Norwegian Research Council to establish a new data service for research on welfare issues. Another new project, based on a contract between NSD and the Research Ministry, will establish and run an authority register and a register on bibliographic references. The system is intended to ease research documentation work at Norwegian universities and university colleges. Ongoing project include for example the Commune Database, that contains statistics for all municipal units of administration in Norway since 1769, Data on the Political System and Government, that holds voting records for the Norwegian Parliament, and CivicActive, where NSD is responsible for the collection and organizing of European election statistics. NSD also coordinated the Madiera project that was completed in March 2006. To facilitate and enrich access to and usage of survey data, the ESS-project developed the ESS EduNet. ESS EduNet is designed to meet the many requests to make it easier and more efficient for lecturers to use ESS data in their teaching.

More than 130 institutions, including the universities and university colleges, public and private colleges, the major national research institutes, the major university hospitals as well as several other hospitals have appointed NSD as their ombudsman for privacy in research. These agreements make NSD the mandatory data protection official for all research projects within these institutions. This means that a majority of research projects that involve the processing of personal information regulated by the Personal Data Act or the Personal Health Data Filing System Act should submit their research for review by the Data Protection Official for Research. The Officials’ main responsibility is to ensure compliance with the Personal Data Actact and the Act on Personal Health Data Filing Systems other relevant legislation and for keeping a record of processing operations carried out by the researcher.

Romania

Adrian Dusa (RODA) writes:

RODA - The Romanian Social Data Archive is an institution funded by the University of Bucharest and the Institute for Quality of Life Research. Along with the usual data depositing and dissemination activities, we are currently commited to complete the creation a standardised authentication system which would act as an on-line access control unit for any data related website. It is envisaged that all the code produced will be made available as an open-source project to which anyone interested could benefit and contribute.

In this respect, we are focusing our efforts on integrating any open-source software that would help to better present and disseminate data on the web, especially MySQL as a database engine and R’s web engine as a statistical tool.

DDI is and will remain the standard for creating and maintaining metadata. Furthermore, RODA has initiated contacts with the National Institute for Statistics and we are currently discussing future collaboration.

Slovenia

Arhiv Družboslovnih Podatkov, Univerza v Ljubljani (ADP) developed a new system to stream-up data acquisitions. This together with the information campaign helped locate new data sets from subject areas not yet covered in archives, and to establish contacts with potential depositors. Additional subject areas include economy, educational sciences, peace studies, studies of public administration. New projects in ADP include a proposal for a project of staff exchange in a Partnership for Science by British Council and attendance at initiative for additional Central and Eastern Europe data archives regional collaboration coordinated by WISDOM, Vienna. In 2005, the final national report for EU project MORESS was prepared in collaboration with another team member from Slovenia. ADP staff also participated the Madiera seminar, IASSIST and CESSDA Expert Meeting and national conferences of Slovene Library Association and Statistical Association and organised training seminars for undergraduate and graduate students about secondary analysis and data access.

In Slovenia, most of research activities, that are supported from public grants, are covered by “research programs” that last for a period of 5 years, beginning in 2004. That’s why year 2005 was a relatively stable period in social sciences.

Spain

Archivo de Estudios Sociales, Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS) has continued with the ordinary activities of servicing users, disseminating files and related materials and cataloguing datasets. The information in the web page with free access has increased substantially, with the corresponding decreasing in the demanded information by other means. This year the web page has been translated to 4 Spanish languages, English and French and has been made accessible to people with disabilities following the accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative. Also during the year 2005 the studies database has been corrected using artificial intelligence techniques and a project for its improvement has been designed to be developed in the next years. The CESSDA Expert Seminar “Preparing and Publishing Metadata” was hosted by CIS in Madrid in October 2005.

Sweden

In October 2005 it was decided that Svensk Samhällsvetenskaplig Datatjänst (SSD) from 2006-01-01 should be organized under the Swedish Research Council. During the year SSD has been involved in the EU financed project MetaDater and a documentation project for the Swedish Income Panel. In 2004 the Swedish Research Council set up a Committee for Research Infrastructures. The committee formulates long-term strategies and handles resource allocation for expensive scientific equipment, large research facilities and extensive databases. The committee also handles Swedish interests in various national and international research infrastructures. The overall aim is to provide better conditions for Swedish researchers by ensuring access to high quality infrastructures. In April 2005 the Swedish Research Council published the report ‘Om forskningens infrastrukturer inom humaniora och samhällsvetenskap’ (About research infrastructures in the humanities and social science). In the report it was emphazised that SSD could be seen as an important actor in the development of the Swedish infrastructure for the humanities and social science. It was also suggested that SSD in the future should be managed by the Research Council. Later in 2005 it was decided that SSD should be organized under the Database Infrastructure Committee (DISC), a new committee to be established in 2006.

Switzerland

Reto Hadorn (SIDOS) writes: The main activities have been continued in 2005: maintaining an inventory of ongoing research, archiving research data, the organization of the Swiss Summer School in Methodology, organizing the Swiss part of the ISSP and acting as the National Coordinator of the ESS. In the domain of data publishing, a major investment was made for harmonizing a set of post-votes surveys covering about 70 datasets and 250 voting objects over nearly 25 years. The PUS of the Swiss Census was updated with the data from year 2000, SIDOS contributing in establishing the documentation of the dataset.

The setting up of a Nesstar server was another important step. It makes selected datasets easily accessible: the Swiss election studies, the data collected by SIDOS for the international projects as well as the series of post-vote studies described above. Those datasets are available in German and in French.

The Swiss information and data archive service for the social sciences has continued its contributions to the EU funded MetaDater (modelling metadata management) and the Madiera (translation of ELSST into French) projects and has made related contributions to the DDI expert committee.

A major reorganization of the social sciences infrastructure services is planned for the next few years; various activities in the domain of data production, preservation and distribution will be integrated into one single academic institute, which will also include a research department.

United Kingdom

UKDA

The UK Data Archive (UKDA) is an organisation consisting of various inter-related (but separately funded) services. The main services are: the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), AHDS History, the Census Registration Service (CRS). In addition the UKDA runs a number of short term projects. Three important developments are worthy of mention. First, a mid-term review of ESDS was carried out by the funders (ESRC/JISC). This was am intensive process but one which produced an excellent result. The review panel agreed without reservation that funding for ESDS should be renewed until 2012 and at an increased level in real terms. Based on this we are currently preparing a new strategic plan until 2012. Second, a special licence agreement has been made between UKDA and the Office for National Statistics. This will allow us to provide micro data not previously accessible to researchers due to statistical disclosure risks. This is an important development in an age of increased concerns over confidentiality. Third, following a review of the Census Programme, funding for CRS has also been renewed until 2011.

New projects in UKDA include Qualitative Demonstrator Scheme Co-ordination (QUARDS), Rural Economy and Land Use Programme Data Support Service (RELU DSS), Source to Output Repositories (StORe), Smart Qualitative Data: Methods and Community Tools for Data Mark-Up (SQUAD), Shibboleth Authentication for Access to the Resource Infrastructures of the UKDA (SAFARI), and Census Portal. On-going are Madiera, Metadater, Assessment of UKDA and The National Archives (TNA) compliance with Open Archival Information System/Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (OAIS/METS), Online Historical Population Reports Project (OHPR) and Victorian Panel Study (VPS).

A new building is currently underway, due for completion at the end of 2006. This will be shared with the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER).

The ESRC are currently developing strategic reports in a number of areas related to data archiving. In particular they are developing a National Data Strategy which identifies social science research data needs. They have also commissioned a report in International Data Needs which is yet to be released.

EDINA & Edinburgh University Data Library in Scotland

Robin Rice (EDINA and University Data Library) writes:

EDINA celebrated its 10th birthday as a national data centre for the UK in January 2006 with a Burns Supper and Ceilidh for friends who played a part in its past or present, and with a colourful ‘balloon debate’ on the direction of its future, recording the occasion on the web with its first ever podcast. Another major milestone for EDINA was the retirement of Alison Bayley, Deputy Director, who first joined Edinburgh University Data Library 20 years ago and in retirement has not slowed down a bit, leading the 25,000 members of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute as its Chairman.

EDINA and MIMAS are the JISC national data centres, sometimes provising joint services - such as the recently launched Jorum national repository for online learning materials - and otherwise specialising. For example, EDINA Digimap is being revamped to take full advantage of Ordnance Survey MasterMap, a feature/object-based data structure. There is also a re-launch of the documentary film service (EMOL) as Film & Sound Online, which includes provision of moving pictures and sounds as evidence for social science enquiry.

As enthusiasm for digital repositories gains momentum, EDINA is exploring the issues involved in sharing geospatial data through a repository in the GRADE project, and is scoping requirements for a national open access repository of eprints. Furthermore, EDINA is working with UKERNA and other partners to lay the groundwork for a national federation for SHIBBOLETH, to smooth the way for institutions to enable sophisticated authentication and authorisation mechanisms for its staff and students to pursue online collaborative working and e-Science.

The UK Digital Curation Centre, to which EDINA is a contributing partner, has received funding to pursue disciplinary differences in long-term preservation of data in addition to its continuing programme of training, support, research and development.