QUADS workshop report

Article dated: 14 December 2005

On 15 November ESDS Qualidata hosted its first workshop as co-ordinators of the Qualitative Archiving and Data Sharing Scheme (QUADS). The event focused on: the fundamentals of presenting qualitative data resources on the web; longer-term sharing and archiving; and promoting standards including building sustainable web sites, harmonising data descriptions, and marking up data content.

Web standards are important - good practice in web design and usability builds on compliance with World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Equally, metadata plays a crucial role in the identification, retrieval, management and long-term storage of digital qualitative data. Consensus is needed to ensure common ways of describing resources, so that resource discovery strategies, for example, can be pooled.

Marking up of data, using universal (eXtended Markup Language(XML)) standards, enables richer and deeper navigation, searching and retrieval at the data content level. Mark-up, at the data level, enables coded textual documents, links from text to audio excerpts, and researcher annotations, to be retained.

Mark-up is also important for longer-term storage and preservation and more complex collaborative research and escience type exploitation.

ESDS Qualidata presented an overview of the merits of metadata for social science and proposed an XML community standard (schema) that is applicable to most qualitative data. Feedback on the schema would be welcomed. To add an applied dimension to the day, four projects, currently creating online resources for qualitative data collections using XML, provided an informal overview of their work.