Building a Social Science Data Archive

Building a Social Science Data Archive

The need to create the means for bringing together and organizing scientific resources which are widely dispersed, and for disseminating both the processes and results of research, creates new demands on social science research and teaching institutions. The more prominent role they will be required to play in disseminating scientific content calls for the development of a scientific infra-structure to integrate the results of research into information networks. Alongside this technological capability, it is also of fundamental importance to encourage the scientific community to become more willing to make available the resources they have developed in doing their research. \nThe proponent and participant institutions (ICS, CES, CIES, cesNOVA, CEG), as leading players in the social science field in Portugal, intend to go ahead with the setting up of a Social Science Data Archive to bring together information on Portuguese society deriving from surveys or public opinion studies carried out by the academic community in general.With a few exceptions, information deriving from research, in particular from surveys and other forms of collecting quantitative data, is not made available for further consultation and analysis after the results are published. Making that information available for easily accessible public consultation is a compelling reason for the setting up of a data bank. \nThus, in setting up an archive, the proponent and participant institutions intend to position itself as the key issuer and disseminator of scientific content and to contribute to strengthening the links between social sciences and society.

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
No
Entidades: 
Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Keywords: 

Data Archive; Data Dissemination; Surveys; Secondary Analysis

The need to create the means for bringing together and organizing scientific resources which are widely dispersed, and for disseminating both the processes and results of research, creates new demands on social science research and teaching institutions. The more prominent role they will be required to play in disseminating scientific content calls for the development of a scientific infra-structure to integrate the results of research into information networks. Alongside this technological capability, it is also of fundamental importance to encourage the scientific community to become more willing to make available the resources they have developed in doing their research. \nThe proponent and participant institutions (ICS, CES, CIES, cesNOVA, CEG), as leading players in the social science field in Portugal, intend to go ahead with the setting up of a Social Science Data Archive to bring together information on Portuguese society deriving from surveys or public opinion studies carried out by the academic community in general.With a few exceptions, information deriving from research, in particular from surveys and other forms of collecting quantitative data, is not made available for further consultation and analysis after the results are published. Making that information available for easily accessible public consultation is a compelling reason for the setting up of a data bank. \nThus, in setting up an archive, the proponent and participant institutions intend to position itself as the key issuer and disseminator of scientific content and to contribute to strengthening the links between social sciences and society.

Objectivos: 
<strong>The links between social sciences and society</strong> involve achieving two key objectives: • The internationalisation of the Portuguese archive through membership of an international system of data archives, namely CESSDA (the Council of European Social Science Data Archives). Joining this organisation will make it possible to promote and add European value to the results of research undertaken in Portugal and will encourage the utilization of those same results in a comparative context. • The institutionalisation of the archive through the formation of a consortium. Setting up a social sciences data archive makes it possible to share information and at the same time helps to improve research methods and organization. In addition, it is desirable - and the development of the archive provides for this - that new institutions should be able to take part in its future development, thereby giving rise to partnerships between academic institutions in both the private and public sectors. Once such partnerships have been established and have been linked to the institutions responsible for science policy, they may become a cohesive nucleus for new information society programmes. The concentration of resources, and above all the definition of a strategic development policy, will undoubtedly help to speed up Internet use as a working tool, and help the social sciences to disseminate scientific information in society in general.
State of the art: 
&nbsp;The increasingly prominent role played by social science in society has helped to make much more information available on Portuguese society. Over the last decade the number of studies and publications on an increasing number of social facts has grown exponentially. However, much of the information produced, which is collected and entered into specific databases which have been put together for the purpose of specific research projects, never gets to see the light of day. A database has far too much potential to be discarded at the end of a research project following the publication of the projects studies and results. There is always a part of the information which is not comprehensively investigated and analyzed. At the same time, for analytical and economical reasons, the information is presented in an aggregated and reconstituted way, and not in the manner in which it is recorded and codified. In this way a significant proportion of scientific information remains statistically stored in computers. These limitations prevent researchers from taking full advantage of existing resources, and at the same time affect the control and critique functions of scientific activity. The solution which has been adopted in the international sphere has been the setting up of data banks. Organizations such as the ISPSR (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research) in the USA, and the CESSDA (Council of European Social Science Data Archives) in Europe, have developed and encouraged the purchase, indexing and distribution of online electronic data for research and teaching in the social sciences. These organizations encourage the exchange of data and technology between similar organizations and co-operate in the development of organizations which have similar objectives. There are many advantages to setting up data banks. The ICPSR Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving outlines their main purposes: &bull; To strengthen scientific research. &bull; To encourage diversity of analysis and opinion. &bull; To facilitate new research projects and to test new or alternative methods. &bull; To improve data collection and measurement methods by examining those of others. &bull; To reduce costs by avoiding duplication of data. &bull; To provide a significant resource for training in research techniques and for teaching activities at the various different levels. Establishing a Social Science Data Archive allows for the development of two significant aspects of scientific activity. On the one hand, it encourages the development of secondary analysis of the data; and on the other, it reinforces the comparative aspect of academic studies. The development of secondary analysis of the data The sharing of data should be a regular part of scientific work. Many researchers want to make their data accessible to other researchers, but lack the resources to do so. The existence of a data bank makes it possible to disseminate much more widely the results of research and data collected, while at the same time making them communicable in operational terms. The availability of data for secondary analysis is not just useful for researchers interested in a particular issue. It may also turn out to be useful to all social science students who wish to develop a thesis or research project on the basis of the information which exists in the data archive. The possibility of taking advantage of information gathered as part of other projects in order to generate new knowledge on particular social facts is one of the most effective forms of achieving a satisfactory return on the investment in scientific activity. The development of comparative analysis in making information on Portuguese society openly available, a data archive encourages the comparative dimension of analysis. This dimension can be looked at from two angles: on the one hand, at the national level, it makes it possible to compare information gathered by different projects; and on the other hand, at the European level, it makes it possible to carry out comparisons between countries. Unlike other information processes for the dissemination of information, in particular through publication in print, a data archive gives the researcher freedom to build indicators and variables from the information he makes available, thereby providing a more consistent methodological foundation for the comparison. Such flexibility encourages the production of knowledge on a comparative basis. It is also likely that comparative analysis will encourage the exchange of information and lead to the development of collaborative efforts which will in turn strengthen the European element of scientific activity.
Parceria: 
Unintegrated
José de Oliveira Mendes
Diogo de Abreu
Fernando Luís Machado
António Pedro Ginestal Tavares de Almeida
Fernando Jorge Pedro da Silva Pinto da Rocha
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/01/2010
End Date: 
01/01/2012
Duração: 
24 meses
Closed