The CESSDA Project: Building a CESSDA-ERIC focal point in the Czech Republic and integrating it into the large pan-European research infrastructure of data services for socio-economic research
Principal Investigator:: Mgr. Jindřich Krejčí, Ph.D.
Funding: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, in the framework of funding large research, development and innovation infrastructures. Project registration number: LM2010006.
Implementation time frame: 2010 - 2015
This project has been completed
Implementation: Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Jilská 1, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Implementing department: Czech Social Science Data Archive (CSDA)
The main goal is to establish a Czech national focal point of the international large research infrastructure, CESSDA, and to integrate the Czech Republic into the infrastructure, which is included in the ESFRI Roadmap and being built in the ESFRI process.
The ESFRI Process
The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) initiated a process of preparing and building large European research infrastructures. Its strategic plan is elaborated in the so-called ESFRI Roadmap.
Data Services for Socioeconomic Research
The centralized data archive gathers data from research projects, processes it and makes it available for further use. It is a part of basic socioeconomic research infrastructure. New material for research is created by connecting databases. Archives enable temporal and international comparison, are the source of methodological information for survey design, fulfil functions in the development of methodologies and technologies, preserve data for future research, provide the basis for organizing research surveys and international cooperation, actively participate on disseminating scientific information and are a prerequisite of effective utilization of survey data.
Data archived: Primary electronic datasets from research surveys intended for secondary statistical analysis are archived and made available. Such datasets are deposited by research organizations conducting surveys with public funding. Also, wherever possible, collaboration is established in order to archive data from surveys implemented by the government administration and from official statistical surveys. The archive enables the public and government sector to make use of data from commercial research surveys. Figure 1 depicts the principle upon which the archiving of socioeconomic data is built.
Open Access to Data
Access to social science data services is built in line with OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Data from Public Funding. In this sense, openness means “access on equal terms for the international research community at the lowest possible cost, preferably at no more than the marginal cost of dissemination. Open access to research data from public funding should be easy, timely, user-friendly and preferably Internet-based” (OECD 2007 – OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding)
The CESSDA European Data Infrastructure
To date, the CESSDA (Council of European Social Science Data Archives) is a federation of twenty social science data organizations from twenty European countries. A total of over 100,000 datasets are provided to more than 7,000 users annually, and other scientific information is provided to more than 200,000 researchers.
Under the ESFRI process, the CESSDA is going to build a single European system of data services by connecting existing national social science data archives that are associated in the existing CESSDA organization. By doing so, it will provide access to data sources from European social research and enable utilization irrespective of the location of data and researchers in the European Research Area. Data sources will be mutually contextualized and build a basis for European comparative research. At the same time, international collaboration and the sharing and concentration of resources will strengthen data infrastructures.
The new CESSDA-ERIC infrastructure (Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives – European Research Infrastructure Consortium) will obtain international legal status as the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC).
The project will create and establish common standards, technologies and instruments in order to connect the individual archives’ services in a single system and create a single online portal (one-stop shop) for data libraries, enabling users to search, access, analyze and download data. Data will be mutually contextualized, datasets and information about data will be interconnected at several levels. This includes, for example, the establishment of electronic archives of social indicators and research instruments, databases of instruments for harmonizing data for international comparison (standardized variables, transformation keys etc.). The project will extend the network in order to systematically cover more types of data sources (including, for example, collaboration with the producers of official statistics) and to make available as many relevant data as possible. For that purpose, it will strengthen data services in member countries. At the same time, it will set international standards and deepen professionalization.
The CESSDA-ERIC National Focal Point
The Czech CESSDA-ERIC National Focal Point will be established at the Czech Social Science Data Archive (CSSDA), Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. It will guarantee:
- full access of Czech researchers to the international infrastructure,
- that the instruments and procedures implemented make integration of Czech data sources possible,
- inclusion of Czech data in and distribution through the system,
- participation in programmes of instruction and utilization of the technologies and know-how shared within the infrastructure.
At the same time, the CESSDA-ERIC framework will ensure further provision and development of socioeconomic data services in the Czech Republic efficiently. The capacity of the existing Czech infrastructure in this area is limited and many datasets that might be accessible are still excluded from publicly available data services. The project will help overcome the existing limitations by relying on resources generated within the CESSDA-ERIC.
Access to the Infrastructure
The infrastructure is primarily accessed online, based on free access to datasets for the purposes of not-for-profit research and instruction.
- CESSDA (archives portal, support for secondary data analysis, information, beta version of the integrated catalogue)
Added Value of the Research Infrastructure
- Contribution to research in the European Research Area (ERA)
- maximizing researchers’ access to data sources located in the ERA,
- connecting national sources across Europe and creating conditions for comparative European research,
- improving the quality of data services and data through standardization,
- establishing links to data organizations outside Europe and outside the social and economic sciences – extending access to data from those areas,
- deepening professionalization, access to programs of instruction for data specialists,
- efficient development of technologies for accessing and processing data.
Contribution to research and society in the Czech Republic
Given the substantial cost of research surveys with public funding, it is desirable to maximize data utilization. In this respect, the Data Archive and the proposed project pursue the Czech Republic’s national policy goals as well as its international commitments (e.g., the Declaration on Access to Research Data from Public Funding approved by OECD and EU member states or European Commission Communication “on scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation”). Access to electronic databases is a condition of fulfilling the priorities for the development of Czech society set by the National Research, Development and Innovation Policy of the Czech Republic in 2009–2015 (Priority 8 – Section III.2.8).
The project will solve the problem of low capacity of domestic infrastructure effectively and build the necessary basis for developing modern and competitive empirical social research in the Czech Republic:
Availability of internationally comparable data is a prerequisite of the orientation of social research at international excellence: Leading periodicals primarily publish those results of research about Czech society whose importance goes beyond the country’s borders, i.e. mostly international comparative results.
- Basis for participation in EU programmes and other international projects: The 7th FP focuses on social research with a European dimension, a substantial part of international programmes is based on international comparison – availability of internationally comparable data and inclusion of Czech data in international databases are the prerequisites of participation.
- New sources for obtaining and analyzing empirical material: Participation in the context of international research will expand the possibilities of data utilization and, in turn, the cost-effectiveness of data collection. Czech researchers will obtain better access to international data.
- Easy access to research data for college instruction: The ability to build instruction around real-life research data without the necessity to invest and organize original surveys.
- Democratic distribution of research conditions across regions: Online availability of data and research instruments makes social sciences less dependent on resources located in the centre and makes it possible to implement excellent research in the regions.
- More studies of Czech society by international researchers: Czech data must be available, comprehensible and comparable so that foreign researchers include the Czech Republic in their regular analyses.
- Effective participation in a prestigious international project: Taking part in the CESSDA is widely supported throughout the ERA (a priority in 17 countries). The project takes advantage of international cooperation, Czech researchers will obtain top-quality conditions for scientific work, given the relatively little share of expenses borne by the Czech Republic (expenses are shared by many countries).
CESSDA participation is a necessary condition for efficient development of data services in the Czech Republic. Science is becoming more and more international and infrastructure can only be developed meaningfully in an international context. At the same time, the CESSDA has no alternative in Europe. Its added value lies in access to new technologies and in the basis it provides for the development of data services.
The data services are utilized by scholars from diverse social science disciplines who conduct both basic and applied research in the academia, government administration and other research organizations. Utilization in college instruction is of primary importance because the archive supplies courses with data from real-life research. As of 2010, the CSDA had over 800 registered users accessing the infrastructure for the purposes of statistical data analysis in research. Access to the documentation of data and projects, including summary tables, is free for all persons without registration. The CSDA also relays Czech data to international databases (e.g., the International Social Survey Programme database) where Czech users have been relatively highly active. Data users, data depositors and collaborators in the Czech Republic consist of researchers at universities (e.g., Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, Charles University in Prague, University of Economics, Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, ZCU, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Palacký University in Olomouc), institutes of the Academy of Sciences (e.g., Institute of Sociology, Economics Institute/CERGE), departmental research institutes (Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs, Institute for Information on Education etc.) and bodies of government administration and the public sector. They are recruited from multiple disciplines (above all, sociology, social policy, political science, economics, social geography etc., but also agricultural economics, health economics etc.).