Regional Report 2005-2006: Europe

IASSIST Regional Report 2006-2007
European Region

Mari Kleemola
Finnish Social Science Data Archive
May 25th, 2007

European membership |  Cross European Collaborations |  National Reports

This report begins with some observations on 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.

Cross European Collaborations

ESFRI |  CESSDA |  ESS |  EDAN 

European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)

The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) published its roadmap in October 2006. The roadmap presents new, large-scale Research Infrastructures, based on an international peer review, and identifies 35 important infrastructure projects from seven key research areas. One of the key research ares is Social Sciences and Humanities, where the following six projects were considered considered as crucial pillars to strengthen the European Research Area, in particular for capacity building:

  • CESSDA (see below)
  • CLARIN (Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure) is a large scale pan-European coordinated infrastructure effort to make language resources and technology available and useful to scholars of all disciplines, in particular the humanities and social sciences.
  • DARIAH (Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities) will be based upon an existing network of Data Centres and Services based in Germany (Max Planck Society), France (CNRS), the Netherlands (DANS) and the United Kingdom (AHDS).
  • EROHS (European Resource Observatory for the Humanities and the Social Sciences) will operate both as a central and distributed facility with a strong physical hub working in close conjunction with a number of spokes across Europe, harnessing European expertise through a coordinated yet decentralised network. It will be organised to promote and ensure cooperation and integration of data, technologies and policies.
  • ESS (see below)
  • SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe) provides data infrastructure for fact-based economic and social science analyses of the on-going changes in Europe due to population ageing.

(Source: ESFRI Roadmap)

Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA)

The Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) is included as a social sciences infrastructure in the ESFRI Roadmap. This increases the possibility that CESSDA will received funding from the EU’s Research Framework Programme FP7 during the years 2007-2013. CESSDA has submitted a bid for a major upgrade of the existing CESSDA Research Infrastructure, in order to ensure that European researchers have access to and gain support for the data resources they require to conduct research of the highest quality.

European data archivists travelled to Athens in October 2006 to attend the annual CESSDA Expert Seminar. The seminar, titled Open Access to Data, focused on data protection and anonymisation. Presentations and discussions brought into highlight a well-known fact: EU countries have applied the Data Protection Directive differently, each in their own way. For example, national statistics agencies disseminate micro data for research purposes on different grounds.

Activities include also renewing the CESSDA website and creating a new common data catalogue, the CESSDA Data Portal, that allows easy access to the catalogues of member organisations. The Data Portal builds on the work of the EU funded project MADIERA, which in turn was based on DDI, ELSST thesaurus and Nesstar technology.

European Social Survey (ESS)

The European Social Survey (ESS) is an academically-driven social survey designed to chart and explain the interaction between Europe’s changing institutions and the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of its diverse populations. The survey covers over 25 European nations and employs rigorous methodology. The first round was fielded in 2002/2003, the second in 2004/2005. The cumulative data and documentation from Rounds 1 and 2 were published in the beginning of 2007. Round 3 fieldwork (themes: Personal and Social Well-being and Timing of Life) began in September 2006, and data and documentation from round 3 will be available to users in the autumn of 2007.

The ESS was nominated in the The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap as one of the next generation of large-scale Research Infrastructures.

(Source: http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/)

East European Data Archive Network (EDAN)

Brigitte Hausstein (GESIS Service Agency Eastern Europe) writes:

  1. EDAN continued its cooperation project on data documentation with Latvia and Serbia: The Latvian Social Science Data Archive, LSZDA (Riga) and the Center of Political Studies and Public Opinion Research of the Institute of Social Sciences Belgrade (Serbia) documented (according to DDI several election studies conducted in their countries and made them publicly available.
  2. The “Initiative for Social Science Data Archive” in Croatia joined EDAN. Researchers from a number of academic institutions as well as from public research institutes started to set up a national data archive.
  3. EDAN is involved in the widening and strengthening activities of CESSDA. It contributed to the EU FP7 application for a Preparatory Phase bid planning for a ‘major upgrade’ of the CESSDA Research Infrastructure.

National Reports

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

Denmark |  Finland |  Hungary |  Ireland |  The Netherlands |  Norway |  Slovenia |  Spain |  Sweden |  Switzerland |  United Kingdom

Denmark

During 2006 the Dansk Data Arkiv (DDA) documented fully 58 data materials. 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. This would also facilitate a future expansion of the Danish search catalogue.

Two new persons were added to the staff. One is hired for one year to work with the acquisition of social science surveys and the other is hired for two years to do software development. Furthermore, DDA Health established a network for specially selected users. The purposes of the network is e.g. to help in identifying new surveys and in promoting the knowledge of DDA.

DDA participated in the DDI Alliance with a chair of the Expert Committee and contributed to the Cessda activities with running the secretariat. DDA is also representend in the Danish Research Council’s working group on research infrastructure for the humanities.

Finland

In February 2007, the Ministry of Education set up a project group to provide recommendations for organising the collection, preservation and use of electronic data in Finland. FSD’s director is a member of the group. The project aims to produce national guidelines, focusing primarily on the electronic material published by institutions governed by the Ministry of Education.

For the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD), the year 2006 was succesful. Several projects were finished: the popular Research Methods Web Resource (MOTV in Finnish) was expanded to include qualitative methods, FSD Handbook on Secondary Use of Data was published, as well as the database POHTIVA which offers political manifestoes and other political texts produced by Finnish political parties over the years. FSD also had a role in the Finnish ISSP2006, WVS fifth wave, ESS and CSES data projects and continued to fund the Finnish membership in the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS).

The findings from the Open Access survey, carried out by the FSD and funded by the Ministry of Education, showed that only ten per cent of university departments have any stated guidelines or rules as regards the preservation of research data. National data archives for different disciplines were regarded to be a good way to organise the archiving of data.

Hungary

Zoltán Lux (1956 Institute Public Foundation) writes:

The Institute’s website (http://www.rev.hu/) underwent renewal in 2006. This included preparation of a new design and development into a real portal service based on the Oracle Internet Application Server..

Complex multimedia content entitled Jubilee web pages was added for the 50th anniversary of the ‘56 Hungarian Revolution. Its four themes (Budapest Insurgent Groups, Literature in the Revolution, Hungarian Students in Austria in 1956-7, and The 1956 Revolution in the World Press) were integrated into the earlier Private History project.

Further development was made of the photo documentary database. Digitalization, content description and downloading of about 4000 new photo documents were begun.Work continued, with support from the Photographic Professional Board of the National Cultural Foundation, on researching the biographies of still living photographers, and archiving photo documents and life-interviews in the 1956 Institute Contemporary History Database. The public records in the Photo Documentary Database have been connected to the National Digital Database (NDA), so that they are now also accessible on the NDA portal (http://search.nda.hu/)

The earlier multimedia project entitled Private History. 1956 and the Kádár Period, developed in 2006, was awarded the Erasmus Euromedia Prize.

Ireland

In early summer 2006, the (http://www.hea.ie/)[Higher Education Authority] (HEA) and Forf’s agreed to conduct a review of the research infrastructure in Ireland. The purpose of the review was to internationally benchmark the research infrastructure in the higher-education sector in particular and to identify gaps in the national platform of research infrastructure, which could be addressed in the short to medium term. The key finding is that notwithstanding the significant investment of funds in research infrastructure since 1998, and the remarkable transformation of the Irish research landscape since that time, weaknesses exist and gaps remain in the higher-education and national research infrastructure. The review report states, for example, that the absence of an adequate national data archive is a serious impediment to social science research in Ireland, as well as to research undertaken in other countries that is inclusive of data pertaining to Ireland.

The report identified the Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA) as a service with “the potential to be a key infrastructural resource, despite being under-resourced”. Subsequent to this, proposals for a greatly expanded ISSDA were submitted to the Higher Education Authority as part of the UCD application for funding in Cycle 4 of the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI). This process is still ongoing.

The Netherlands

Marion Wittenberg (DANS) writes:

DANS is buzzing with activities. Now operational is the DANS EASY system which is a do-it-yourself web application for depositing data and the accompanying documentation: http://easy.dans.knaw.nl/dms. This is a quite complicated system which can be used both by the data users, the data depositors and the archivists.

One of the large scale projects which has started up early in 2007 is MIXED. This is basically a research and development program in the field of long term digital preservation defining an archival format in XML for databases and spreadsheets.

DANS will, furthermore, participate in four European projects (7th Research Framework Program), if all applications are granted: Preparing DARIAH (European data infrastructure for the humanities), CESSDA RI (European data infrastructure for the social sciences), CLIO-INFRA (on social-economic historical data) and IPYDLE (on research data created in the International Polar Year 2007/2008).

Norway

Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD) is actively involved in several national and international projects, for example European Social Survey (ESS), Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC), Ecclesiastical Database (the basis for the Church of Norway’s official statistics) and Elite data (data about political elites and the political and administrative system in Norway).

New projects include for example the new Regional Database, based on the Commune Database. The new database will offer a far better and up-to-data functionality including a more comprehensive usability and a more advanced metadata functions. The system will be implemented during 2007. NSD is also included in the Eurosphere project, which started in mid-February. The project is funded via FP6 and has partners from 17 universities and research institutions. The objective is to develop innovative perspectives on the European public area, and to identify factors that have influences on this. The project use data from Eurobarometer, ESS, CivicActive and data collected especially for this purpose. NSD has conducted school elections for ten rounds. The last round was held in 2005 in connection with the election for the Norwegian Parliament.This years the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training decided that the project shall go on for five years and cover three elections; 2007, 2009 and 2011. After a competitive tendering NSD was given the contract.

More than 140 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.

Slovenia

Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) shows a long-term determination to support the activities of Arhiv Druzboslovnih Podatkov, Univerza v Ljubljani (ADP by acknowledgment of data delivery to ADP as explicit criteria of successful evaluation of research projects. Following this a transfer of metadata study descriptions from ADP catalogue to a Common Slovene libraries catalogue is underway.

In ADP, further acquisition of data form broad social science and interdisciplinary is underway, with the special emphasis on the data from public and governmental sector, especially Statistical Office’s. As a result in 2006 a Microdata of 2002 Slovenian Census is available. Also full Slovene language and ADP “look and feel” customisation of a NESSTAR server was finished.]

Spain

Archivo de Estudios Sociales, Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (ARCES/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. The results of the published studies with the cross tabulation by the typical socioeconomic variables has started to be presented at the web page from this year. Other changes have also been made with the administration of the web page to improve the access conditions. The CIS has worked this year in new survey methods and has made significant changes in the 300 hours post-graduated course in applied social research and data analysis training.

Sweden

Svensk Samhällsvetenskaplig Datatjänst (Swedish Social Science Data Service, SSD) is now under the governance of the The Database InfraStructure Committee (DISC) within the Research Council.

The Swedish Research Council has decided to make a major effort on research data bases, and for this purpose the Data Infrastructure Committee (DISC) was established in the beginning of 2006. The assignment of DISC is to coordinate and conduct efforts to make research data bases accessible within social sciences, epidemiology/population health and the humanities. Part of this work is to establish the Swedish National Data Service (SND). SND will replace the Swedish Social Science Data Service (SSD). In November 2006 all Swedish universities were invited to apply for hosting SND. Five universities - Göteborg, Lund, Uppsala, Stockholm and Örebro - applied. The research council is expected to make the decision of host university at the end of May 2007.

In April 2007, SSD launched its new website that offers a new design, better opportunities to search SSD’s data catalogue, and much more.

Switzerland

Reto Hadorn (SIDOS) writes:

Swiss information and data archive service for the social sciences (SIDOS) was funded by the federal goverment from the start in 1992, as a Foundation of the Swiss Academy for Human and Social Sciences. For several years now, discussions have taken place about ways to further the interest of researchers for available data and the and ways to set up a steady collaboration with the official statistics. These discussions result now in a new setting:

  • A new entity is created, which covers service activities (information about ongoing research and data publishing), data collection activities (ESS, ISSP, MOSAiCH, electoral studies (SELECTS) and the Swiss Household Panel) and research activities. The Services get additional resources as well as an extension to publish data from the Swiss Statistical Office.
  • This new entity will be installed at the University of Lausanne, which contributes both with infrastructures and a research program focused on using available data
  • Funding comes from multiple agencies: the State Secretariat for Education and Research for the services, the Swiss National Science Foundation for the data collection activities and the University of Lausanne for the research activities.
  • The new organisation will be enforced in January 2008.

The decision to go that way has been formally taken April 2007 and work is presently done to define the implementation procedures. A lot of questions still open:

  • the name of the new agency
  • the legal form, either a foundation as SIDOS was or an academic institute of the University of Lausanne
  • the governance of the whole - which will be the autonomy of the Services?
  • the type of research: thematic, focused on inequality and poverty, or exclusively methodologic
  • managers think of pooling the IT resources; a lot depends on the quality of the audit.

The Services (presently SIDOS) will greatly benefit from the increase of resources (+ 100% according to the plans). But change fosters insecurity, the staff rotation accelerates. Dominique Joye, director since 1999, has left SIDOS for the University of Lausanne, where he was deeply involved with the elaboration of the project the University drafted to compete for hosting the new agency. Reto Hadorn was appointed as an ad interim director to bridge the gap until the director of the new agency takes his office.

SIDOS is working on an on line translation tool for study description level metadata (DDI 2). It is tailored to the relational database used at SIDOS for metadata management but will actually be used to make the translations necessary for (a) multilingual data publication on the SIDOS NESSTAR server (German and French) and (b) metadata publication on the CESSDA server (English). It will be able to handle any number of languages. Translation profiles make it possible to translate distinct sets of elements for the publication on the SIDOS server and the CESSDA server. The current name name of the application is DDILINGUO. The project is self funded.

United Kingdom

UK Data Archive

Louise Corti (UKDA) writes:

The UK Economic and Research Council (ESRC) decided at its February 2007 meeting to extend support for ESDS of which a major partner for a further five years to October 2012. This is excellent news for a longer term future. Additional funding has been secured from ESRC to obtain licences to distribute both the important Latinobarometro and Datastream collections. It is hoped to have these available for users by August 2007. A sixth major study has been added to the Longitudinal portfolio - the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE), also known as Next Steps. This is a major innovative panel study of young people which brings together data from a number of different sources, including both annual interviews with young people, their parents and administrative sources. Other important new acquisitions in this period have included the European Working Conditions Survey series, a major EU survey series deposited for the first time, the British Election Study, 2005 and the Electoral Reform and the British MEP: Qualitative Interviews with 61 British Members of the European Parliament. Two major surveys have also been enhanced and released via Nesstar for the first time as a result of liaison work with the depositor (the NI Continuous Household Survey, 2005 and WERS 2004).

In addition to these new acquisitions and data enhancement work, it is important to note work that is conducted with data producers. UKDA continue to hold regular meetings with a number of different data producers. Of particular note in this regard have been the on-going discussions with The National Archives (TNA) to produce and implement a common shared data preservation policy relating government departments.

In February, a special issue of the journal Methodological Innovations Online was edited by Louise Corti (ESDS Qualidata). This collection of papers entitled ‘Making qualitative data more re-usable: issues of context and representation’ focuses on defining and capturing context of raw qualitative data in relation to sharing and re-use rather than original interpretation. The papers arise out of workshop previously organised by ESDS Qualidata as part of the Qualitative Archiving and Data Sharing Scheme (QUADS). Also in this period two issues UK Databytes have been published, together with an issue of the ESDS Government newsletter.

UKDA has also continued to received a number of visitors from overseas, usually wanting to learn more about how ESDS works. Visitors in this period have included Professor Oleg Karasev, Director of Statistics at Moscow University; a delegation from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a team from the South African Human Sciences Research Council.

UKDA has been testing and evaluating the Lucene search engine software. It is planned to move over to this for the central ESDS catalogue, resulting in improved functionality. A new version (3.5) of the Nesstar on-line data browsing software was implemented in March. This has includes new and improved functionality including: the ability to compute/recode variables; calculations can now be performed on categories within tables; the ability to perform correlation analyses; bookmarks can now contain descriptive information.

The UKDA has recently been successful in winning funding from JISC under the Repositories and Preservation Programme for the Data Exchange Tools and Conversion Utilities (DExT) project. This will build on ESDS Qualidata’s previous work of systematic preservation and sharing of qualitative data, aiming to develop data exchange models and data conversion tools for empirical research data. The project will have significant impact on ESDS in relation to the preservation back-end and how this interacts with the dissemination download tools.

The UKDA (and the UK representative for the Council of European Social Science Data Archives - CESSDA) have prepared an EU FP7 application for a Preparatory Phase bid planning for a ‘major upgrade’ of the CESSDA Research Infrastructure.

EDINA & Edinburgh University Data Library in Scotland

Robin Rice (EDINA and University Data Library) writes:

EDINA, based at the University of Edinburgh, has been funded by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) to undertake a variety of repository-related development activities to enhance access to academic research outputs in the UK. The GRADE project has been investigating and reporting on the technical, legal and cultural issues around the reuse of geospatial data and has built a demonstrator repository for sharing derived geospatial data with other licensed users. With the DataShare project, by supporting academics within four UK universities who wish to share datasets on which written research outputs are based, a network of institution-based data repositories will develop a niche model for deposit of ‘orphaned datasets’ currently filled neither by centralised subject-domain data archives/centres/grids nor by eprint-based institutional repositories. The purpose of the Depot is to ensure that all UK academics can enjoy the benefits of Open Access by providing a repository for the interim period before every university has such repository provision: it is geared to peer-reviewed postprints but has implications for data deposit - ‘Put it in the Depot’ - with functionality that would re-direct those wanting to deposit datasets and other research outputs to suitable repositories, such as institutional repositories and data archives.

Member’s highlights:

  • Alison Bayley enjoyed her first year of retirement from EDINA/Data Library whilst remaining busy chairing the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute.
  • Peter Burnhill gave a keynote speech to ASEAN/AUNILO in Brunei on sharing scholarly resources; and is on the Board for CLOCKSS (Controlled LOCKSS: a community-governed partnership of publishers and libraries working to achieve a sustainable and globally distributed archive of published scholarly literature.
  • Stuart Macdonald worked with Bristol University as Editor for the Social Statistics section of Intute - the UK’s resource discovery service.
  • Robin Rice collaborated on a funding council scoping study to identify quantitative methods capacity building needs in Scotland.