Editorial 1/2017

FSD Strengthens its Technical and Information Services

Helena Laaksonen

The Finnish Research Infrastructure Committee of the Academy of Finland decided on project funding for research infrastructures at the end of January.

The Finnish Social Science Data Archive had a lot to gain, as we pursued funding for taking care of our national membership obligations for the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) as well as enhancing and updating our domestic services.

Both applications were based on our proposition that was accepted for Finland’s roadmap for research infrastructures. The applications were partly connected to each other.

There is a great deal of competition for infrastructure funding. According to the Academy of Finland, they received 138 applications for 60 different infrastructures. In the end, the 27 million euros was divided between only 18 applicants.

This means that we are one of the lucky ones, although one can hardly speak of a lottery in this case. Proposals for roadmap for research infrastructures had already previously gone through an international review. Naturally, international expert panels reviewed the funding applications as well. Furthermore, the research infrastructure committee assessed the openness of the infrastructure, its usage policies, width of the user base, persistence, international significance, and the executability of the plan.

The plan for our successful project focuses on fulfilling the obligations set out by CESSDA and the active participation in the building phase of CESSDA. As a national service provider, the FSD must participate in CESSDA’s administration and communications also after the project is completed. This will also require the use of our base funding.

With the funding we received, we can especially develop and increase our technical service personnel, who are an integral part in building compatible international services. Participation in the development of unified services requires sharing the expertise gathered at the FSD, but it also requires us to learn new skills. This is a requirement for all of us, not just the IT staff. During the next five years you will read and hear much more about the services created with the funding received from the Academy of Finland.

In this bulletin we will showcase the new search features of Aila Data Portal, built with the help of previous infrastructure funding, and give you some pointers on good data management. We will also introduce Penna, which is a brand new tool for gathering textual data. The article about chat-data recorded from the Suunta service demonstrates a new type of archived data. Infrastructure funding was also on my mind during my interview about becoming the director of the FSD.

Our communication services are being renewed this year with the focus shifting to individual news items, so make sure to follow the news updates on our website.

Helena Laaksonen