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Metadata for Complex Information

Presenter 1
Lisa Neidert
University of Michigan

Researchers create analysis files that are not always based on numeric data. An example would be a database of abortion laws by state and time. US states vary in their abortion regulations: age limits, ultrasound requirements, mandatory waiting periods, etc. Typically, the cornucopia of regulations have been added, modified, deleted over time. And, to complicate matters, sometimes there are jurisdictional variations which may or may not stay constant. Another database would be state-based legislation centered on specific topics and sub-Track, which allows for comparisons over time or across states. A final example that incorporates both data and information would be the yes/no county breakdowns for citizen votes for amendments to state constitutions on a variety of topics. Important information the researcher might collect would be the text of the statute, language on the ballot, source for the vote, legislative vs. citizen-based, year, type of election. Are data documentation initiatives flexible enough to import this type of information? Clearly, the information is structured if it is disseminated via a searchable database. Should social science archives care about preserving these efforts? Would these be considered data under NSF/NIH data sharing legislation?

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