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Conference Presentations 2005

  • IASSIST 2005-Evidence and Enlightenment, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Host Institution: EDINA National Data Cente and Edinburgh University Data Library

H1: Becoming Enlightened about Discovering Data: Finding Evidence (Fri, 2005-05-27)
Chair:Bern, Paul

  • Citing statistics and data: where are we today?
    Gaetan Drolet (Statistics Canada)


    It has been fifteen years since Sue Dodd presented her discussion paper entitled: Bibliographic References for Computer Files in the Social Sciences: at the 1990 IASSIST conference. Since then very little has transpired to improve the use of citations even though statistics and data today has become more complex with the variety of data formats available. It is time to resume the discussion.

    This paper explores the challenge for IASSIST and IFDO in developing and promoting a culture of citing statistics and data. Existing practices will be discussed as well as the link between metadata and citation i.e. Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) to Data Citation Initiative (DCI). The characteristics of proper citation will be noted including the benefits of full and consistent citations to users, data producers and data distributors. Lastly, an exciting new web tool for citing statistics and data, available through the Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) in Canada, will be demonstrated.

  • System of subject headings for Russian Federation budget data information system
    Anna Bogomolova (Moscow State University)
    Tatyana Yudina (Moscow State University)


    Budget data is among the most socially demanded stuff everywhere in the world. Available at local, regional and federal levels budget data composes a research base for investigations and a decision support holding for powers. It is also vital for citizens and public initiatives. Given that budget statistics in Russia is the most accurately gathered and regularly updated stuff of all other state data it is a social challenge to implement an information system integrating local, regional and federal statistics and government agencies reports, think tanks publications and academic papers on state finances and compliment it with developed subject-oriented search instrument. An information system on budget data is implemented and updated as part of the University Information System RUSSIA ( The most ambitious part of the product is a System of Subject Headings for Russian Federation Budget Data processing and integration. The System of Subject Headings will be also used as a search instrument to navigate in Russian Federation Budget Data. As a first step a RF state finances ontology was formed. A beta version consisted of 100+ categories, it was presented for evaluation to a group of specialists in the field. The comments were gathered and discussed. By collective efforts a SSH final version was composed. The work has started on each category terminological presentation/description/support. Terminology is borrowed from the UIS RUSSIA thesaurus (70000+ descriptors and terms). As a next step a SSH-thesaurus (120 categories, 5000+ descriptors with terms) will be created and tested while processing the budget data and documents. Specialists engaged in the project will evaluate the results to provide for a tool horning. The instrument created will be implemented to search across an integrated holding of the RF budget data and documents investigating the finance situation and system analysis of economic and social processes.

  • Sensor grids for the social sciences
    Rob Procter (National Centre for e-Social Science)


    Within the past five years, the Grid has evolved from its beginnings as a highly specialised research tool to its adoption as the blueprint for a new kind of global computing infrastructure. This has seen Grid computing being taken up by a wider research community and the emergence of new forms of research practice now encapsulated within the notion of ‘e-Science’.

    Grids come in a variety of forms: computational grids, data grids, access grids and sensor grids. This paper examines the possible forms and potential impact of sensor grids for social science research.

    The value of sensor grids stems from the way they enable researchers to manage remote data gathering via distributed networks of instruments. Examples of sensor grids in scientific research include networks of environmental monitoring devices. Analogously, the notion of sensor grids for social science research envisages harnessing the progressive ‘instrumentation’ of the social world through, for example, CCTV, mobile phones and ubiquitous computing devices: digital data about social phenomena is being generated on ever increasing scale as a by product of the everyday activities of social actors and could provide a richer picture of social phenomena than is available through more conventional data gathering techniques.

    The paper will discuss possible research applications for social science sensor grids, including the real-time analysis of social patterns and processes, and issues for their practical realisation, including data integration and management, and ethical issues relating to access, security, confidentiality and privacy.

  • Discovery channels
    Kenneth Miller (UK Data Archive, University of Essex)


    One of the casualties of the UKDA moving from a Unix system supporting INGRES to a Microsoft environment using SQLserver was the BIRON search system. It was decided to replace it with a simple Google type search interface based on siteserver indexes.

    With Microsoft no longer supporting siteserver, along with the new requirements of the ESDS specialist services and internal demands for more powerful tools, the UKDA decided to review its resource discovery options.

    This paper discusses the relative merits and resource implications of using SQL fulltext indexes, z39.50, OAI and web harvesters. The presentation will include demonstrations of the more powerful and advanced searches now available.


H2: Shaping Metadata Insight: The Metadater Tool (Fri, 2005-05-27)
Chair:Moschner, Meinhard

  • Metadater: data models and tools for documenting comparative research data
    Ekkehard Mochmann (GESIS- ZA Cologne)
    Uwe Jensen (GESIS- ZA Cologne)


    The MetaDater project develops a Metadata Management and Production System for comparative social surveys repeated over space and time. All other survey designs are in fact reductions or simplifications of that model. The overarching objectives are to develop standards to describe as well as tools to produce and to manage related metadata. The scope of information the project has to deal with is metadata according to the general definition of the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI): "Metadata (data about data) constitute the information that enables the effective, efficient, and accurate use of those datasets". All developments are based on the analysis of all phases of a study life-cycle. Based on this analysis the conceptual and relational data models for MetaDater were developed.

    As agreed, the results of the model development and user analyses were provided to DDI-Alliance, which will take up the life cycle model. Currently the style sheets and functionalities for the data documentation by data collectors and providers are being developed. First user test will start in June 2005.

    MetaDater is designed to improve interoperability of social science data bases for comparative research and will thus contribute to the emerging social science data GRID.

  • The data model and data production procedures and dissemination
    Marios Fridakis (Greek Social Data Bank at EKKE)
    John Kallas (Greek Social Data Bank at EKKE)


    The conceptual metadata model must meet two main requirements:
    a. Support the needs for data storing of the metadata management system
    b. If the data model is implemented in a relational database it must be possible to be used by other applications.

    Thus, the conceptual metadata model will support the functionality of the whole research product life cycle. If we try to model the whole research procedure we need a conceptual model of the whole system. We must differentiate between the conceptual model of the system and the conceptual metadata model, because the term 'conceptual' is misleading. The metadata management system will automate specific parts of the conceptual model of the system.

    We distinguish metadata entities in five categories:
    * The first category consists of the entities that describe autonomous documents produced in the context of a study at study level documentation (i.e. documents that are produced in the context of a specific study, and can be also used independently of the study). We will call these entities documentation objects.
    * The second category consists of the entities that describe autonomous objects produced in the context of a study at variable level documentation.
    * The third category consists of the entities that describe objects that depend on another object and that cannot be disseminated autonomously.
    * The fourth category consists of the entities that describe administrational characteristics of specific documentation objects, or of the entire system.
    * The fifth category consists of the entities that describe objects that are produced and used in the context of a metadata management system and not in the context of a study: the study description, the dataset description, the questionnaire, the project description, the file descriptions and the references to publications.

    The entities in this category have some common administrational characteristics, which are expressed in the conceptual data model as 'subtypes' of a 'supertype', table which is called "Documentation objects". Some of those functions will be presented in detail.

  • MetaDater's perspective on cross-national and diachronic data
    Reto Hadorn (SIDOS)


    For a long time, the data documentation standards have been limited to the description of cross-section studies. To some extent, this documentation schema can also be used for cross-national studies, as far as the latter take the form of a well known integrated dataset. The increasing importance of some cross-national projects in the last twenty years or so (Eurobarometer, ISSP, ESS etc.) raises nevertheless new expectations. The DDI-Alliance has created a special expert group to handle those questions. The CSDI (Comparative Survey Design and Implementation Network) works on quality standards for cross-national studies, of which detailed documentation is an important component.

    For the EU funded MetaDater project, working on a metadata management and production system, the repeated cross-national study was selected as the highest complexity to be handled in the data model and the application. The following questions must be answered in this perspective:

    * Is the ambition to describe with more appropriate categories the well known integrated data file or to document each of the country specific datasets?
    * If one chooses to document the single components of the cross-national study, a new question raises: how will the whole set of single cross-sections be described? Defining the whole as a 'collection' of cross-sections can do it; a more promising way would consist in relating organically questions and variables in those datasets, which are related over space or through time.

    If this network of relationships between questions, resp. variables, is established carefully, it can be used to support the process of integration of country specific datasets. At the end of the process, the questions and variables in the integrated dataset are related to the questions and variables in the integrated national cross-sections. This information can be fed into any standard publication of the metadata for the whole project, making it possible to navigate through the whole project.

  • THE Metadater data model and the formation of a grid for the support of social research
    John Kallas (Greek Social Data Bank at EKKE)


    The formation of a GRID for the support of social research strongly depends on the collaboration of data producers, data providers and analysts.

    The formation of the GRID will support:
    Building a subject matter ontology for every specific research field
    * Secondary data production
    * Data discovery
    * Support new study design
    * Supplementary research documentation

    To support the functionality of the GRID a social science infrastructure is needed but as the raw material for any social scientific production is data, a conceptual data model is the heart of this infrastructure. Existing information systems, used for primary production, data preservation and dissemination, cannot support the functionality of a GRID because the data models used in the three working phases do communicate badly. This presentation will show for each of the elements listed above how the integrated approach of the MetaDater metadata model supports of the functionality of the GRID.


H3: Using National Data (Fri, 2005-05-27)
Chair:Cannon, San

  • Canadian statistics: evidence for enlightened democracy
    Alan Bulley (Statistics Canada)


    A distinguishing feature of the Scottish Enlightenment was its emphasis on participatory democracy. Believing that political power belonged to its citizens, Scotland promoted literacy to enable all Scots to debate and decide the issues of the day. An ocean away and more than two centuries later, Statistics Canada informs and educates Canadian citizens to help them take part fully in the life of their nation.

    To this end, the organization has created a range of public good products to engage Canadians—not only researchers, but students, journalists and business people—with reliable and timely information about their country.

    In elaborating on these themes, this paper will look at Statistics Canada’s ongoing redesign of its public good products, its use of usability testing and its active engagement of the business, educational and media communities to encourage statistical literacy and research. The paper will also examine some of the challenges facing public good statistics, such as meeting the needs of diverse publics and archiving dynamic publications.

  • Academic researchers and their use of digital data preserved in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
    Margaret O. Adams (NARA)


    The U. S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) offers access to records to anyone who seeks to have access, subject to the terms of the federal Freedom of Information Act . Throughout the 35 years of NARA’s custodial program for electronic records, academic researchers have acquired copies of more archival digital data files than has any other researcher group. New knowledge, new research techniques, new understanding of historical phenomena have emerged from researcher use of NARA’s archival electronic records. Some research has influenced social policy, some has answered questions about the nature of war casualties, while other research has informed our common understanding of ourselves and our nation. International scholars have used U.S. archival digital data to study the opinions of their countrymen on a wide-variety of issues posed to them by an agency of the U.S. government, collected by that agency for its own programmatic purposes.

    The proposed paper analyzes research use of archival data and is based upon administrative data from the most recent years of an archival reference program for electronic records at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Both traditional and online forms of access to digital data will be discussed and the impact of offering multiple forms of access will be explored.
  • IASSIST Quarterly

    Publications Special issue: A pioneer data librarian
    Welcome to the special volume of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ (37):1-4, 2013). This special issue started as exchange of ideas between Libbie Stephenson and Margaret Adams to collect


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