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Number 3 November 2000

Depositing datasets? Not at all complicated!

By Matleena Oksman

Researcher Pekka Syrjälä  

Pekka Syrjälä hopes that in the future, researches would increasingly take to the idea of depositing their datasets in the data archive.

Researcher Pekka Syrjälä from the Department of Sociology at the University of Tampere is one of those important people who make the operation of the data archive possible. He has deposited in the archive datasets from research projects he has participated.

One of them is Finland-94 survey where the sample consisted of 18-65 years old Finnish-speaking residents of Finland (FSD1045). The subject of the study was change in professional structure and social status. Another of Syrjälä's datasets consists of interviews covering the Baltic states where approximately 1500 persons in working age from each three states were interviewed (FSD1046). The survey dealt with social change in the Baltic States and Scandinavia. Both research projects were led by professor Raimo Blom.

In the projects Syrjälä was responsible for organising the collecting and handling of the material. Thus, he knows it well. He says that the depositing procedures were actually quite simple.
- As such, depositing datasets with tools now available is easy because datasets can be transferred by e-mail. The most time-consuming task was filling in the necessary forms. Each depositor fills a description form describing, among other things, the subject of the study and in which published materials the survey data have been used. The Baltic dataset, for instance has been used in several countries, at least one doctoral dissertation, a number of masters' theses and many articles have been written based on them.

Syrjälä admits that in the hustle and bustle of other work to be done, looking up information like this tends to get buried in the sidelines of everyday activities. However, he hopes that in the future, researches would increasingly take to the idea of depositing their datasets in the data archive.

- I think it's good that datasets are utilised later, too, because that makes long-term studies possible. I can't see why materials couldn't be deposited after a research project has been concluded. In Syrjälä's view, depositing datasets in an archive serves, apart from the archive and other researchers, the depositor as well. One can think of the archive also as a depository for a backup copy. In case of a catastrophe it would be a relief, especially in view of very extensive datasets, to know that at least one copy is safely stored.

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