Annual Report 2017: New FSD strategy emphasises responsible open science

The year 2017 marked the start of a new four-year strategy for the data archive. FSD Strategy for Years 2017–2020: An International Expert of Responsible Open Science is all about FSD’s aims to extensively develop its services to be interoperable with the services of national and international partners. FSD emphasises its role as a service-oriented expert organisation that is responsibly FAIR – all services and data are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.

Preparations for the new strategy started in 2016 as members of staff and FSD’s National Advisory Board attended workshops with the aim of collecting ideas and suggestions for the strategy. Putting the new strategy together was postponed to early 2017 due to the change of FSD’s director. The Board of the University of Tampere appointed long-time deputy director Helena Laaksonen (M.Soc.Sci) as the new director.

The Finnish Social Science Data Archive is an expert organisation in digital research data that preserves and archives research data that have been collected to study Finnish society, people and cultural phenomena. Data are available to researchers for reuse reliably and efficiently via the Aila Data Service.

The Archive operates as an independent unit of the University of Tampere, and in addition to its basic resources, FSD has received research infrastructure funding from the Academy of Finland. Two separate reviews of FSD activities were carried out in 2017. A mid-term review by the Academy of Finland on the research infrastructures roadmap was finished in early 2018. In addition, FSD obtained the CoreTrustSeal (CTS) certificate in August 2017 as a proof of reliability in facilitating long-term digital preservation and data reuse.

Preparing for GDPR at FSD

The year 2017 was a busy one for FSD. A dominating theme in operations development and numerous training sessions was preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union and concurrent changes to the national legislation. For instance, FSD produced its first “data balance sheet” to map out its current level of data protection and development needs in data archive work. FSD also revised its agreement texts to be in line with GDPR’s requirements. Terminology work as well as practices involving data anonymisation, processing and long-term preservation were also developed in 2017. Quantitative data files are now produced in the CSV format in addition to the SPSS portable format. Moreover, data descriptions of previously archived datasets were updated.

FSD redesigned its “Data by Theme” page, which introduces data series and datasets on certain themes. New themes were also included. To top the year off, a theme page entitled “Life in the 100-year-old Finland”, which introduces research data collected in Finland in 2017, was published in December.

The search function of the Aila Data Service was updated. Searches can be conducted in Finnish or in English and they target study descriptions as well as questions and variables. With the advanced search, it is possible to search from publications based on the archived data. Data reuse increased further in 2017, and FSD’s domestic projects and cooperation support the aim of developing the availability of research data in different ways.

In late 2017, FSD conducted a user satisfaction survey that charted customers’ views on FSD’s information service, data services and communication. A report on the user satisfaction survey was published in March 2018.

International cooperation was active in 2017 as well. In line with its strategy, FSD actively collaborates with international partners and national partners from different countries. The European Commission granted CESSDA, the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives, an ERIC status in June 2017. The CESSDA General Assembly accepted Finland’s membership application in November, with FSD as CESSDA’s national service provider. FSD was also a member of four CESSDA working groups in 2017.

FSD’s year 2017 in figures

  • 85 new datasets
  • 1,050 contacts made regarding data acquisition
  • 12.51GB of archived data
  • 1,338 datasets available on Aila
  • 647 depositors from 130 different organisations
  • 2,905 datasets downloaded for reuse
  • 932 registered downloaders of data
  • Altogether 3,134 registered Aila users
  • 86% of datasets utilised during 2000–2017
  • Usage of downloaded data: 40% for study purposes, 24% for research, 23% for theses, 20% for teaching, 2% for other purposes
  • Most active data reusers: University of Tampere, University of Eastern Finland, University of Helsinki
  • 1.26 million page requests for
  • 240,000 visits to the Aila service portal
  • 7 service applications online
  • Participated in 12 domestic collaboration projects and 5 international projects
  • 26 employees at FSD
  • Total budget €2,279,579 of which project funding constitutes 45%
  • 2 person-years spent by FSD employees in CESSDA working groups and projects