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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CESSDA Expert Seminar and Alpine Flowers

Data archive representatives plan guidebook on data processing

Hannele Keckman-Koivuniemi 8.2.2005

The Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) holds an expert seminar every spring and autumn. This autumn the seminar was held in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The topic was data processing, with the aim to create a guidebook on the subject.

System Analyst Jouni Sivonen and Project Coordinator Hannele Keckman-Koivuniemi from FSD attended. Other participants represented ICPSR, and data-archives in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, UK, Holland, Germany, Greece, Slovenia, Switzerland and Israel.

In the seminar, archiving processes ranging from data acquisition to delivery of data were explored. Main focus was on the processing of data files: in which format data files arrive to archives, in what way they are converted, what kind of processing levels are adopted, what kind of software is used, and how long-term preservation of data and different data versions are managed.

Another important theme was documentation. Sufficient information on data collection, sampling, field work, response rate, non-response and data file processing are necessary to make a dataset reliable and easy to use. Training and career opportunities for archive staff were also discussed.

There are many similarities in the way archives process data, but there are also differences. Archives differ in the number of datasets they archive, funding, staff numbers and years of operation. Therefore, the guidebook should respond to different kinds of needs. We concluded that the CESSDA Web site would be a good arena for archives to exchange information. In the future, all kinds of information, guidelines and tips will be available on the Web site, both for archive staff and social scientists.

Neuchâtel is situated at the shore of Lake Neuchâtel, between the Alps and the Jura range. The September weather was warm and sunny. In addition to the well-organised seminar, our hosts took us to a memorable funicular ride and a trekking trip to the mountains of Jura. We tasted local delicacies fondue and rösti potatoes, admired alpine flowers, and were delighted with the sight of cows crazing in the meadows.