Editorial 2/2013

The New CESSDA Infrastructure is Launched

Sami Borg

The building of European Research Infrastructures is well on its way as part of the ESFRI process. This is one of the reasons why Finland has been updating its national roadmap for RIs (research infrastructures). Right now, decisions are being made on developing the national service providers of the European infrastructures. The Finnish Research Infrastructure Committee (FIRI Committee) of the Academy of Finland coordinates this process.

The Finnish Social Science Data Archive is the national Service Provider for the recently launched new CESSDA, which is one of ERIs listed on the ESFRI Roadmap. Work has already begun in the main office of CESSDA in Bergen. Norway and Germany are the main funders of CESSDA's centralized operations, covering about three quarters of the annual two million budget. Today, 13 countries have joined. The number is expected to rise up to 20 countries in the next few years.

The new CESSDA has a decentralized structure, with the main office providing core services, funding for development projects, and coordination for the activities of the national service providers. This is a fundamental change from the past even though the name CESSDA has not changed. The old CESSDA, the Council of European Social Science Data Archives, was a loosely organized community of data archives. Members in the new CESSDA are no longer data archives but member states who have made a commitment to provide specific national services according to the agreed standards and goals.

There is only a small change in the name: Council has become Consortium. Even though the brand of CESSDA stays on, we have to communicate the big change in its structure and functionality to the European research community. This will be helped by the status of an ERIC which CESSDA will probably attain during 2014.

For the FSD, CESSDA's inclusion into the ESFRI Roadmap has opened up significant development possibilities. Our services are being expanded and updated with FIRI funding. A new web service will soon be launched, allowing online data dissemination. There are also other IT developments which will enable users to find relevant data more easily.

Our main goals for the next few years are listed in our 2013-2016 strategy. In addition to increased internationalization, we aim to extend our service concept to health sciences and humanities, and to support data reuse and life cycle with improved services.

Already at this point we owe special thanks to our Norwegian and German colleagues for the work they have done to enhance the European cooperation. Now it is time for all member states to put in their efforts for the development of the new CESSDA.

Sami Borg