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Number 7 (1/2002)

National "utilisation networks" found support in the seminar on comparative research

Mari Kleemola

Some twenty social scientists interested in cross-national comparative research participated in a seminar organised by the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. The seminar, held in February in Tampere, had three objectives: to disseminate information on the available research data, to inform about future materials, and to enhance researcher networking. Three cross-national projects of comparative research were presented: European Social Survey (ESS), International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), and Luxembourg Income Study (LIS).

Europeans produce comparative research data of high quality

Heikki ErvastiHeikki Ervasti, docent from the Department of Social Policy of the University of Turku and the national ESS co-ordinator, presented the content, goals and timetables of the ESS project. ESS is funded by the European Commission, and the data collection for its first wave will be carried out in the autumn of 2002. The survey will cover 20 European countries. - ESS is a researcher-driven project where particular attention is paid to methods, said Ervasti.

At the moment, the Finnish questionnaire is under final revision. Some national questions will also be included.

ISSP opens possibilities also for teaching

Harri MelinHarri Melin, professor from the Department of Sociology and Social Psychology of the University of Tampere, emphasised the internationality of the ISSP data. He feels confident that the programme is of importance to the whole scientific community. - The ISSP data open intriguing possibilities for both methods teaching and thesis research.

Finland has participated in the ISSP programme since the year 2000. Statistics Finland has collected the national data by postal surveys.

LIS enables comparative research on income and welfare surveys

Veli-Matti RitakallioThe Luxembourg Income Study data include comparative time-series from nearly 30 countries. - LIS makes it possible to evaluate the functionality and outcomes of the different benefit systems, stated Veli-Matti Ritakallio, professor from the Department of Social Policy of the University of Turku, who presented the LIS collections.

National research agencies and institutions deliver their household survey data to the LIS project. The data are harmonised and stored in Luxembourg. One of LIS's objectives is to promote data accumulation: on LIS's website, one can find recent statistics, information on standard methods, and LIS working papers.

National questions pondered in workshops

In the afternoon, the seminar participants were divided into groups. They discussed what kinds of national questions should be attached to this year's ISSP and ESS surveys.

The idea of intensifying international co-operation was also raised. For instance, co-operation could be realised by agreeing on a few additional questions to be used in all the Nordic countries. Thereby it would be possible to conduct comparative Nordic studies. Furthermore, international co-operation could prove effective if the international modules needed revision.

National "utilisation networks" important

Several participants underlined that cross-national comparative data offer unique possibilities to researchers, teachers and students alike. Their active use benefits the scientific community as a whole. Students form perhaps the largest group of potential users. The participants concluded that it would be necessary to create national "utilisation networks" in order to activate Finns to use the data.

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