CESSDA (Opens in a new tab) is a pan-European research infrastructure providing large scale data services to the social sciences. CESSDA activities are based on centralised services in Bergen and Cologne, as well as on the services provided national service providers. The new CESSDA will create an extensive European online database and information services which researchers can use to locate and access data.

The Finnish Social Science Data Archive has been a national service provider for CESSDA since 2013. During this project, the Archive will improve its service provision in accordance with the criteria and requirements set by CESSDA. The main goals include significant expansion of the Archive's national mandate, the development of data management services, and new services facilitating comparative research. Development work already done in earlier projects has thus far resulted in an online data service portal as well as several other improvements to services and technical tools.

The funding period of the FSD in CESSDA project is from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2015 and it involves four tasks:

  • FSD's participation in CESSDA's service provision and development of joint services
  • Expansion of FSD's services into health research and humanities
  • Development of services that support data management
  • Improvement of IT resources

The project is funded by the FIRI 2013 call of the Academy of Finland.

CESSDA requirements

All national service providers will sign a service level agreement with the new CESSDA-ERIC, by which they agree to provide enhanced services to users with the help of modern online technologies, effective search features, a joint question bank and a thesaurus, and by linking data to publications.

Active participation in the activities of CESSDA requires the strengthening of skills and expertise. In the case of FSD, this entails improving technical services, integration of IT systems with those of CESSDA, metadata cooperation with Statistics Finland and national research organisations, and participation in data harmonisation between service providers.

Expansion of services

In the project, FSD services will be expanded into two new fields of science, health sciences and humanities.

Health science data are often sensitive, which poses legal and ethical challenges to data archiving. Health sciences also lack a tradition of systematic data sharing. In the project, we will take a closer look at existing research cultures and practices of the field, develop archiving strategies for health data, and develop data anonymisation practices that fulfill both the legal requirements and facilitate data reuse. We will also investigate the use of the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) metadata standard in the documentation and archiving of health data, and consult other Nordic data archives that already have expertise in archiving health data. A pilot will be conducted on the archiving of an extensive data series that contains longitudinal health data.

FSD has also recognised the need for reuse and preservation of humanities data. In the beginning of 2015, a pilot project was launched in which humanities data were archived and archiving practices explored.

Development of data management services

Requirements or recommendations set by research funders to provide open access to research data mean that professional information services need to be available for researchers who require them. One aim of the FSD in CESSDA project is to improve services that support research data management. The Finnish scientific community needs guidance in collecting quantitative and qualitative data in a manner that allows sharing, preservation, and reuse of data in compliance with the best practices. In the project, FSD will promote the best practices for data management and create web content that supports these practices. The Archive will also organise data management training that focuses on data ownership, legal issues, metadata production, and archiving and sharing data.

Improvement of IT resources

In order to accomplish the new tasks mentioned, the Archive's IT resources need strengthening. The main goals include facilitating access to data by improving the search tools provided, improving the metadata, creating a question bank, and streamlining the maintenance of FSD's thematic web pages.