FSD Bulletin

Issue 15 (3/2004)

ISSN 1795-5262

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FSD Bulletin is the electronic newsletter of the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. The Bulletin provides information and news related to the data archive and social science research.


Finnish Social Science Data Archive
E-mail: fsd@tuni.fi

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Access to International Datasets for UK Academic Community

ESDS International portfolio has 3500 users

Helena Laaksonen 8.2.2005

Comparative international research in the UK was definitely enhanced by the launch of ESDS International in 2003. ESDS portfolio provides access to data from inter-governmental organisations such as the OECD, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations, UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and International Labour Organisation (ILO).

EDSD data are available via Eduserv Athens authentication. Athens identifies users as members of the UK academic community, allowing them to browse and use most databases in the portfolio. Data are disseminated via a web-based, user-friendly interface. The browser software, Beyond 20/20 Web Data Server (WDS), runs in a standard web browser. There is no longer any need to navigate complicated user interfaces to access international data.

ESDS International is a part of the wider Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), a national UK data service. Other data services included in ESDS are ESDS Government, ESDS Longitudinal and ESDS Qualidata.

Timely launch

Several timely factors made the establishment of ESDS International possible. Firstly, there was an increasing demand for International Governmental Organizations (IGOs) to become more transparent and open. Secondly, it is only recently that IGOs have produced data in a format which can be converted for web delivery. Thirdly, research funding bodies in the UK wanted to enhance international comparative research.

ESDS International portfolio has been built with care. Previously, researchers had access to certain international macro datasets, mostly economic, and these datasets formed the initial data portfolio.

In 2003, the portfolio was expanded to include other, carefully selected datasets. A literature survey was conducted and e-journals were reviewed to identify international databases which would be useful to research. An ESDS user consultation survey helped to identify which international datasets potential users would like to gain access to.

ESDS International team at IASSIST conference

Significant savings, growing community of users

Most datasets currently in the ESDS portfolio could previously be accessed only through institutional subscriptions. SourceOECD price list, for example, indicates that in 2005 access to their Statistical Databases costs 4850 euros for non-profit institutions. Access costs for an individual dataset vary between 130-900 euros.

ESDS portfolio builders were able to achieve significant savings compared to institutional subscriptions. They negotiated several-year, UK wide data redistribution deals with a number of IGOs. As the number of users grows, the savings also increase.

ESDS International user statistics show that the number of users grew significantly during 2004. The number of registered individual users increased by several hundreds to 1300 persons. By the end of January 2005, the number of users had risen to 3500, and the trend is still continuing. Most users are university staff or postgraduate students. There are also institutional users.

Unique data service

Brasil is also planning a national data distribution deal with IGOs. In the meantime, British researchers have unique opportunities in this respect.

In Finland, for example, Tampere University Library provides access to SourceOECD databases. Thus, it is relatively easy for Tampere University students and scholars to access them. However, this is certainly not the case for other international datasets included in the ESDS International portfolio.