FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
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Main Guidelines for Depositing Data
- What does archiving data cost the researcher or the research project?
Nothing. FSD's basic services (archiving data, delivering data in digital format via the Aila Data Service, translating quantitative data into English, and information service) are free of charge.
- What kinds of datasets are archived at FSD?
FSD curates and preserves digital research data collected to study Finnish society, population and cultural phenomena that are estimated to be of significance for teaching and research purposes. Both quantitative and qualitative data are archived. We archive the 'raw data', i.e. the digital research data collected by the researcher, as well as useful metadata on the content of the data and their creators. The data files to be archived must be organised properly and be in good condition technically.
- What are the benefits of depositing data at FSD?
Archiving a dataset guarantees its future usability, even when the software and equipment originally used for storing the data have become outdated. FSD staff checks all deposited datasets, and any supplementary material (e.g. a blank questionnaire and coding instructions) is also archived. The data archive will also take care that the metadata related to a dataset is sufficient to allow its reuse. On request, we also translate quantitative datasets into English, increasing the data's international visibility.
- Can I set conditions for the use of the data?
Yes, depositors can stipulate conditions for archiving and reuse in the Deposition Agreement (Opens in a new tab) PDF.
- Do I or the university I represent lose the rights to the archived data?
The depositor of the research data consents to the archiving and dissemination of the dataset for reuse according to the terms and conditions agreed upon in the deposition agreement. In all other respects, the original creators of the data retain the copyright and related intellectual property rights to the data. FSD will be responsible for providing access to the data, providing long-term preservation and managing delivery of the data for reuse purposes in accordance with current data protection regulations and requirements.
- Do you require that data users cite the data?
Yes. The conditions of data use state that data users shall cite the data and the creators of the data in all publications and presentations for which the data have been used. FSD provides an example citation for each dataset and there are further instructions on citing data on our website.
- Can I receive information on the use of the data I have archived?
Yes. You can request to have an annual report on data reuse delivered to you. The report contains information on which purposes the data have been distributed for and which new publications have made use of the data.
- Is a digital data service as reliable as the previous data ordering procedure that was based on paper documents?
The new procedure is even more reliable. To register with the data service, staff and students of universities and universities of applied sciences use their personal usernames provided by their home institution. IT Administration in the user's home institution is responsible for the accuracy of personal information linked to the usernames. When a user registers for the Aila Data Service, FSD receives some of the user's personal information from their home institution. FSD also requests additional information from users for its user system.
There is a separate registration system for users who are not members of Finnish universities or universities of applied sciences, such as researchers in government research institutes or researchers from outside Finland. The registration of such users will only be accepted once the accuracy of the information provided by them is verified.
FSD's user system records information on users, data ordered by them, and the date and time when the user accepted the Terms and Conditions. We send all users a reminder about the conditions of data use and the requirement to securely erase the data after they no longer need the data for the purpose stated in the agreement.
- Why is the name of the data creator not asked in the Deposition Agreement?
We always enquire information about the data creators and collectors when the data are being described at the archive. This is to ensure that the author information contains specifically the names of those people responsible for the intellectual content of the dataset. Data creators are always included in the citation information of data.
The Deposition Agreement is often signed by the creator of the data, but it can also be signed by a representative of the organisation, such as the head of the department or the director of the research project. For this reason, we always ascertain the creator of the data when describing the dataset.
- The data I want to archive contains identifiers. Can it still be archived?
FSD recommends that data creators themselves take care of anonymising their data according to the instructions provided by the archive. FSD always checks the preliminary anonymisation carried out by the researchers and processes the remaining identifiers (e.g. indirect identifiers) to ensure the anonymity of the data.
If needed, FSD will also help and instruct you in planning the anonymisation of your data.
- In which cases should I choose in the Deposition Agreement that the dataset can only be distributed to users with permission from the depositor?
The main reason for choosing this alternative is that primary research on the data is still ongoing. Requiring permission enables the researcher to make sure that users will not undertake research similar to his/hers.
- Why do I have to provide an alternative procedure for granting the permission to use the data, even though I want to be the only person to grant permission?
The task of FSD is to ensure the accessibility and long-term preservation of research data today and in the decades to come. The life span of research data is seen as endless. The data that are topical today will, in time, become data for historical research. If you do not want your data to be used after you no longer are in a position to make decisions about granting permission, it is perhaps best not to deposit the data at FSD.
- Where in the Deposition Agreement can I express that I require a research plan from the reusers of my data?
The requirement shall be entered in the Additional information field in the Deposition Agreement. When data use is subject to permission and the data creators require a research plan, the data archive will act as an intermediary.
Depositing Data in Practice
- What measures should I take to keep my research data accessible and make them easy to archive?
FSD's Data Management Guidelines provide detailed instructions on how to manage research data at the different stages of data life cycle. Producing, processing and storing data according to the instructions improves their usability and considerably decrease the costs of long-term preservation, in addition to facilitating data management during research.
- If I want to deposit data at FSD, what do I have to do first?
Contact the Archive so we can discuss the details of archiving. Tell us more about your data and how you have informed research participants on the use of your data. Data cannot be transferred to FSD before entering in an agreement on personal data processing (Opens in a new tab) PDF for assessing the suitability of research data for archiving. The agreement is handled digitally and no signature is needed. In connection with the agreement, we will ask you further information about the data controller, types of personal data and categories of data subjects in the research data. More information in our guidelines for data depositors.
- What material do I have to submit to FSD when I deposit data?
In addition to the actual data, any supplementary material (e.g. a blank questionnaire, coding instructions, and information about publications related to the data) is useful. Moreover, we need information on data collection and information given to research participants about the use of the data. Before transferring the data we also need the information on the data controller, types of personal data and categories of data subjects in the research data.
- Do you archive the questionnaires filled in by the respondents?
No. We cannot accept them, as we only have limited storage space.
- Do you archive digital audio recordings or AV recordings?
We do not archive video data. Preservation and reuse of Finnish AV recordings is managed by the Language Bank of Finland (Opens in a new tab) , which specialises in linguistics. We normally do not archive audio recordings, but exceptions may be considered if interviewees have given consent to the reuse of the recordings with identifiers included.
- Must I notify FSD of all publications related to the data when I send the data in for archiving?
FSD should be notified of all publications in which the data have been used (e.g. theses, articles, monographs). This does not include seminar papers or other unpublished essays. Physical copies of the publications need not be sent, only the bibliographic information. We list the publication information in the data description. You can also notify FSD about new publications later as they are published.
General Principles of Data Use
- How much does using the data cost?
FSD's basic services are free of charge: translating quantitative data into English, delivering data in digital format via the Aila Data Service, information service and archiving data. Using the data is also free of charge but please note that archived data can in most cases only be used for research, teaching and study connected to universities, universities of applied sciences or research institutes. More information.
- What are the access conditions for data?
Access conditions differ between datasets archived at FSD. Class A datasets are openly available for all users even without registration. Class B datasets constitute the majority of datasets archived at FSD and they are available for teaching, studying and research purposes. Class C datasets are available for research only, and using class D datasets is subject to permission from the depositor. Permission is requested through Aila.
Research here refers to work in which answers to research questions are sought through systematic analysis of data and application of the research methods of the field, and which is carried out at universities, research institutes or other equivalent organisations. Teaching in this context refers to courses at a university, university of applied sciences or equivalent organisation. Study refers to studies under the supervision of a teacher, lecturer etc. at a university, university of applied sciences or equivalent organisation.
- Can students download data?
Yes. FSD delivers data for Bachelor's and Master's theses and term papers. The majority of datasets on Aila are available for study purposes. Datasets that are "available for all users without registration" (class A) and "available for research, teaching and study" (class B) in the Data Catalogue can be downloaded for study purposes, and datasets "available for research only" (class C) can be used for Master's theses. In some cases, even class D datasets that require a permission from the data depositor can be used for study purposes. See also Downloading and Using Data.
- How do I gain access to the data?
Some datasets are openly available for all users without registration. You can download the dataset you need in our Aila Data Service according to the terms and conditions set for the dataset. Students and members of staff of Finnish universities, polytechnics and research institutes can register for the data service using the username and password issued to them by their home organisation. Other users are required to complete a short registration form to get a user account, that is, to apply for an Aila username and password. The Terms and Conditions for the Use of the Aila Data Service apply to all users. See also Downloading and Using Data.
- Can I order data if I do not speak Finnish?
Yes, we translate quantitative data into English, on request and free of charge, for researchers who do not speak Finnish. We do not translate qualitative datasets and they are generally available only in the original language, that is, mainly in Finnish. Translation of quantitative data may take a few weeks, but we will provide an estimate of the time required. Many quantitative datasets have already been translated into English. The translated datasets have a codebook which you can access on the English study description page of the dataset. Study descriptions can be browsed in the Data Catalogue or searched on the search interface.
- How quickly will I receive the data?
Registered Aila users can download Finnish datasets and datasets already translated into English immediately. If permission from the depositor is required or the data must be translated into English first, it will take longer before the user can download the files.
- How long can I use the data?
The time allotted for the use of the data is dependent on the purpose of use, which the user will state before downloading the data. In accordance with our terms and conditions, the data must be disposed of after they are no longer needed for the purpose stated. If you want to use the same data for a new purpose (for example, a new research project), you need to submit a new application.
- My access application to a dataset available only by permission of the depositor has been approved. However, when I try to download it from Aila, I receive a notification saying that the download period has expired. Is there a way to extend the download period?
Yes there is, if you intend to use the dataset for the purpose you stated in the application, i.e. if the purpose of use has not changed. Data download period and permission granted for the use of a dataset are tied to the purpose of use. The download period lasts two weeks. In order to extend the download period, contact our User Services. If the purpose of use has changed, you must submit a new access application.
- Can I let others use the dataset I downloaded?
You cannot. The access granted to a dataset is always personal and the user who downloaded the dataset is responsible for the use of the data. Each person who wishes to use the data must personally register as an FSD user and accept both the Terms and Conditions for the Use of the Aila Data Service and the General Terms and Conditions for Data Use. After this they can download the dataset for their own use.
Teachers can download datasets for teaching purposes. If only parts/extracts of the datasets are used for exercises, they can be given to students digitally or on paper. If the complete dataset is used, students have to register as users of Aila and download the dataset individually. It is important that the students acquaint themselves with the access conditions laid down for the use of the dataset.
- Can FSD help me to obtain data from other archives?
Primarily, you should directly contact the archive responsible for archiving the data you need. FSD does not archive cross-national data, like ISSP or Eurobarometers. We can, however, provide guidance to Finnish researchers and students as well as people working at Finnish universities on how to acquire data from other data archives (Opens in a new tab) .
Registering as a User and Downloading Data
- How do I register as a user of Aila?
To register with the data service, staff and students of universities and universities of applied sciences use their personal usernames provided by their home institution. IT Administration in the user's home institution is responsible for the accuracy of personal information linked to the usernames. When a user registers for the Aila Data Service, FSD receives some of the user's personal information from their home institution. FSD also requests additional information from users for its user system.
There is a separate registration system for users who are not members of Finnish universities or universities of applied sciences, such as researchers in government research institutes or researchers from outside Finland. The registration is usually processed within a week, and the username and password will be sent by e-mail once the registration has been approved.
- I received a username and a password, but I cannot log in! An error message saying "Page cannot be displayed" appears. What to do?
Try logging in by using another web browser (e.g. Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 11 or Microsoft Edge).
If you cannot log in by using another browser, the problem may occur due to the limitations set for your network. Try logging in from another network (e.g. at your home if the problem occurred at your workplace).
- Can I download several datasets simultaneously?
You can only download one dataset at a time from Aila, because the conditions set for each dataset vary. However, you can download more than one dataset consecutively. See also Downloading and Using Data.
- I downloaded a dataset from Aila, but now I cannot find it on my computer. Can I download the dataset again?
Please check first whether the file can be found in the default download folder on your computer. For example, in Windows, files downloaded from the Internet are saved in the Downloads folder by default. You can change the location of the default download folder in your browser settings (e.g. in Internet Explorer, open the browser and select Tools [cog icon] -> View Downloads -> Options. Here you can choose the default download location).
- In which formats are data available?
By default, we deliver quantitative datasets in CSV and SPSS Portable file format. With certain restrictions, quantitative datasets can also be delivered in other formats by request sent to our User Services. The majority of archived qualitative datasets are in document file formats (RTF, TXT, PDF) and generally available in Finnish only. Datasets are delivered in compressed ZIP files.
- In which cases must I submit a new access application for a dataset that I have already downloaded? What changes in the purpose of use necessitate a new application?
When the purpose of use distinctly changes, a new application must be submitted. For example, if you originally downloaded the dataset for a BA thesis and you would like to use it for an MA thesis you must submit a new application. Similarly, if you downloaded the data for teaching and would now like to use it for research, or if you want to use the same data in different research programmes or courses, you are required to submit a new application.
If you continue to use the dataset for the same thesis you originally downloaded it for, even if you amend your research question to some extent, there is no need for a new application.
- Can I order only parts of datasets, i.e. only specific variables?
Unfortunately, we do not have resources for this type of service. We always provide the datasets with complete variables and cases.
- What is a codebook?
Codebooks produced by the archive are PDF documents containing a general description of the study and methodologies used, a variable-level description, variable frequencies, and the questionnaire (usually in Finnish unless the original questionnaire was in English or had an English version).
- What is a drop-off questionnaire?
A drop-off questionnaire is a questionnaire given to the respondent in connection with a survey interview. The respondent fills in the questionnaire and returns it to the researcher by mail.
- What does 'under embargo' mean?
It means that the original creator(s) of the data restrict access to data or part of data, often because they have not yet published their own research based on it. If there is an embargo, the study description often gives information about the extent and duration of the embargo.
Opening Data Files
- I received the data in a ZIP file. What is it and how do I open it?
Datasets downloaded from Aila are compressed ZIP files. Save the ZIP file to your hard disk (for instance, C: or D: drive). After saving, the files need to be decompressed/extracted on your computer's storage media. For instance, Windows and Mac OS can display and decompress ZIP files. Alternatively, free software tools (e.g. 7-zip, WinZip, iZip) can be used to extract them. If you download a dataset from Aila on a shared computer, you must make sure that no copies of the dataset remain in the computer's memory (for example, in the Downloads folder). See instructions on opening other kinds of files below.
- How do I open an SPSS portable file?
In order to display a portable file in SPSS, choose File -> Open -> Data in the drop-down menu, change the file type to SPSS portable (*.por), select the file name and click on Open. See instructions on opening SPSS Portable file in R.
- Open-ended responses/Scandinavian characters (å, ä, ö) do not display properly in the SPSS data matrix. What do I do?
Please check that SPSS did not load with Unicode as the character encoding (SPSS will display the message "Unicode: ON" in the lower right corner of the data editor window). If this is the case, you have to switch to the local character encoding of your operating system, usually Windows-1252.
You can switch the character encoding as follows:
- Ensure that only one EMPTY data matrix is open in SPSS.
- Open a new syntax window (File -> New -> Syntax).
- Write the following line in the syntax window: SET LOCALE = 'fi_FI.windows-1252'. (Note: if you wish to use another locale, replace the "fi_FI" part of the above line with your desired locale)
- Choose Run -> All from the drop-down menu of the syntax window.
- Open Edit -> Options -> Language.
- Choose "Locale's writing system" as your character encoding and ensure that under "Locale", you have chosen the locale specified above. Click OK.
If the lower-right corner of the data editor window now reads "Unicode: OFF", characters should display correctly in the data matrix.
- How do I open a CSV file?
If a CSV text file containing comma-separated values does not open correctly in Excel, try the following:
- In Excel, open the "Data" tab.
- Click "From Text" (Get External Data).
- Choose the CSV text file you wish to import into Excel and click "Import".
- Choose "Delimited" as the data type and the correct character encoding from the "File origin" drop-down menu (e.g. 65001: Unicode (UTF-8)). Click "Next".
- Choose "Comma" as the delimiter and click "Next" and "Finish".
- Choose where you want to place the data and click OK.
- Why am I not able to open questionnaires and codebooks on the Internet?
Questionnaires and codebooks which are in PDF format usually open in a browser window or a separate program without any problems. If questionnaires and codebooks do not open directly in your browser window, click on their link with the secondary mouse button, choose Save Target As, save the file and open it in Adobe Acrobat Reader or another PDF viewer.
- The data I received came with citation information. What do I need it for?
Data have to be cited just like any other source of information. In order to facilitate citing, we provide data reusers with a citation model for each delivered dataset. Citation information can be found in the description and codebook of the data. If needed, you may adapt the citation (see the next question).
- How do I cite the data in publications?
In the list of references, whenever possible, use the citation model provided by FSD. The model can also be adapted to the citation style required by the publisher or publication, but each element mentioned in the FSD model has to be included. However, when it comes to texts and tables, you can apply the publisher's instructions. Versions of a dataset are comparable to editions of a book. Instructions and examples.
- How do I find the dataset I need?
The most convenient way to find data is to use Aila search. There are three search types in Aila: data search (which searches through study descriptions), variable search, and expert search. You can search all fields or limit the search to particular fields. You can also choose to search only qualitative or quantitative data, or data in a particular language. Links and more information: Searching data.
- How do I keep informed of the latest datasets?
See Aila Data Catalogue. By default, the catalogue is sorted by publication date, with the most recent datasets shown first.
- Who funds FSD?
FSD is a separate unit of Tampere University, serving researchers, teachers and students both in Finland and elsewhere. The archive is mainly funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland, with additional national and EU funding for various projects.
- FSD is a national institute then?
Yes. In addition, we provide the international scientific community with information and data on Finland.
- When was FSD founded?
The archive began operating in 1999.
- How many employees does FSD have?
FSD employs approximately 15 permanent employees. In addition, we have fixed-term staff members working on projects as well as part-time research assistants. Contact information.
- Who deposits data at FSD?
Our depositors include researchers at universities and state research institutes, ministries, and different organisations collecting research data. Students have also deposited data they have collected for Master's theses.
- How many datasets are delivered to users annually?
We deliver approximately 2,000 datasets to our users per year. More specific statistics are available in our annual reports (mainly available in Finnish only).
- Where can I find more information on FSD and archived data?
All information on our activities can be found on our website. See, for example, FSD Bulletin and News.
- Does FSD conduct research?
Not particularly. FSD is a resource centre for national and international research especially in the social sciences. However, keeping up to date on current research in a variety of scientific fields is essential for FSD's activities.