Editorial 1/2018

CESSDA Is an ERIC At Last and FSD Continues as Service Provider

Helena Laaksonen

The theme of this Bulletin is very similar to that of Issue 38 in 2013 where we presented research infrastructures for the social sciences and humanities. In 2013, European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), was a fairly new legal entity. It was expected that the infrastructure for social science data archives, CESSDA, would quickly be awarded the ERIC status. Instead, it took nearly four years before this happened.

Although cooperation among European social science data archives dates back nearly 40 years, CESSDA did not became an ERIC until June 2017. One of the reasons was that the CESSDA Main Office is located in Norway, which is not an EU country. Finland applied for CESSDA membership in October, and the General Assembly accepted Finland as its member and FSD as its national Service Provider on 22 November 2017.

Even though it took longer than expected for CESSDA to receive the ERIC status, its activities continued uninterrupted. European data archives have a tradition of close cooperation, and FSD has always been an active member of CESSDA. While waiting for the ERIC status, CESSDA and its member archives actively developed and improved the foundation for common services. Now, thanks to the change in the legal status of CESSDA, there are new opportunities for stronger cooperation.

People at FSD have worked hard to fulfil the criteria for CESSDA membership and build joint CESSDA services in FIRI projects funded by the Academy of Finland, projects funded by the EU, and in CESSDA’s own projects. We and CESSDA both have a lot of work ahead of us, but the opportunities to do it are now better than ever. The European states involved are also committed to supporting the infrastructure and the Service Providers financially.

In turn, the infrastructure must demonstrate its impacts. Doing so is not very simple. CESSDA’s joint European services aimed at researchers are still in their infancy. At the same time, CESSDA is developing services for its own Service Providers, the data archives. The Service Providers constantly benefit from this collaboration. Developing new national services is easier with advice and help provided by the more established and experienced data archives. The chain of impacts involves a number of different aspects.

CESSDA and its Service Providers also need to look beyond their own field. There are several opportunities for cooperation between the infrastructures for the human sciences, and this cooperation could be strengthened. The European Union targets funding at collaborative infrastructure projects in which CESSDA has also participated. CESSDA has also decided to take part in the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

In addition to recent news from CESSDA, this bulletin, like the bulletin from 2013, will feature information on the ERICs for the social sciences and humanities. There has been national development in the past four years. Finland applied for the membership of the European Social Survey, ESS ERIC, at the same time as the CESSDA membership. Finland has also been a member of CLARIN ERIC for some time. At present, Finland has a commitment to three strong research infrastructures in the social sciences and humanities. Moreover, with support from the European Commission, arts and humanities scholars working with computational methods actively collaborate in DARIAH. Finland recently conducted its first study as part of the SHARE survey on ageing Europeans.

Helena Laaksonen