FSD’s Archiving Services

FSD archives your digital research data completely free of charge and in accordance with the FAIR principles.

FSD will handle the long-term preservation and dissemination of your research data securely and reliably. We ensure that data are easily findable and accessible in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed upon by the depositor and the archive.

We archive both quantitative and qualitative data. We will describe the data for you, store them in a file format suitable for reuse and help you with the anonymisation of the data. Your data will be preserved for decades to come reliably and in accordance with current data security regulations and requirements.

Our Data Management Guidelines provide clear and understandable advice on data processing at the different stages of the data life cycle.

Guidelines for Depositing Data

FSD archives digital research data that can be reused for research, study or teaching purposes. See our Guidelines for Depositing Data for further information on FSD’s archival process and what you need to consider if you want to archive your data at FSD.

Guidelines for Depositing Data

Help with anonymisation

It is very important to us that sharing research data does not compromise the privacy of research participants. Our user services staff always ensures that the archived data are anonymous.

In some cases, we may be able to anonymise the data on request from a researcher. However, as a rule, we expect researchers to anonymise their data. FSD experts will then check the data to ensure the anonymisation is sufficient.

Our Data Management Guidelines contain good, practical advice on how to anonymise data. See the chapter "Anonymisation and Personal Data".

Data are carefully checked

Our data processing personnel examine the data thoroughly. Variables in quantitative data are checked against the questionnaire (or other research instrument), and missing data are reviewed. Detailed information on the contents of the variables and their values are added. Variable and value labels are constructed based on the questionnaire.

Qualitative data are read through with care to ensure that no identifiers are left in the data. We name the documents systematically and check the consistency of internal metadata (file naming, labelling).

All alterations to data are carefully documented.

Your data is stored in a format suitable for reuse

We convert quantitative data into SPSS Portable (*.por) and comma separated values (*.csv) file formats in which they are delivered to our users. Codebooks and questionnaires are added to Aila as PDF files.

Qualitative data are mainly converted into TXT, ODT or PDF file format. The purpose of the conversion is to enable reuse of the data independent of the software used. Dataset guides are stored in PDF. Qualitative data are delivered to users as compressed ZIP files.

Data are described in the DDI format

Data archived at FSD are described in XML in the international DDI format, which is specifically designed for social, behavioural, economic, and health sciences.

Information in our data descriptions include, for example

  • author(s) of the study
  • subject and contents of the study
  • sampling procedure
  • data collection
  • analysis unit / unit of observation
  • terms and conditions of data use
  • data format(s)
  • number of variables in quantitative data
  • question texts in the questionnaire
  • documents related to qualitative data (interview questions, invitation letter etc.).

We describe both the content and variables of a study. Our Finnish data descriptions are keyworded using the General Finnish Thesaurus (YSA) and the English ones using the European Language Social Science Thesaurus (ELSST). In addition to these, we use several national and international vocabularies and classifications in documenting fields of study and data collection methods, among others.

Detailed data descriptions are essential to make data easy to find and ensure the long-term preservation and reuse of data. Using the DDI specification, written in XML format, in describing the data enables effective searches and generating the metadata in various formats.

Using an international standard also allows easily sharing the metadata to many national and international union catalogues.

Data are also described in English

Descriptions of data archived at FSD are always produced both in Finnish and English, which provides international visibility to the data and the researcher.

We translate Finnish quantitative data into English on request for users who do not speak Finnish. However, we are unable to translate qualitative data due to their often much larger size. All of our translation services are free of charge both to users and data depositors.

Your dataset is available in catalogues

We publish the data descriptions in our data catalogue on the Aila Data Service after which they are also automatically published in the national research data finder Etsin and the Finna search service that allows single searches from the holdings of Finnish museums, libraries and archives.

The Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) maintains an international data catalogue, which allows researchers from all over Europe to also find FSD data.

We collect information about publications using your data

Registered Aila users commit to notify FSD about any publications based on the archived data.

Researchers may also request an annual report on the use of their data in publications. We also list the publications based on the data in the dataset description on Aila.

Data are assigned PIDs

From spring 2016 onwards, FSD has assigned all archived data persistent URN identifiers or PIDs. Persistent identifiers ensure that data can be found even if they are transferred to a new location for some reason.

Codebooks or dataset guides are produced based on data

In order to make reusing the data as easy as possible, we produce PDF codebooks based on all quantitative data on Aila. A codebook contains a model citation and information on the contents and structure of data as well as publications based on data. Variable names, question texts and frequency distributions are also included in a codebook. A codebook may also contain appendices, most typically a questionnaire.

When it comes to qualitative data, dataset guides, which are similar to codebooks, are produced. A dataset guide contains a full description of data and a model citation. In addition, it contains all documents used in collecting data, such as interview questions, invitation letters and material for participant tasks. In the case of textual data, a dataset guide also contains a data example, which will demonstrate the level of transcription used, for example.

Users are reminded to cite data

The users of data archived at FSD commit to properly cite the data.

FSD prepares a model citation for each dataset to make citing as easy as possible to users. Model citations are published in data descriptions and codebooks or dataset guides. Data users can copy the citation in their bibliography as is or edit it to correspond to the citation practices of their field or publication.