CESSDA development

Article dated: 12 September 2007

The Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) - for which the UKDA is the UK's national member - has provided networked infrastructural services for the social sciences for the past 30 years through the acquisition, support and supply of data for the European social science and humanities research community. Over this period it has grown both in geographical and substantive terms. The network now extends to 21 countries across Europe and also has associate partners in many of the emerging member states. Collectively the constituent CESSDA member organisations serve some 30,000 plus social science and humanities researchers within the European Research Area each year, providing access to and delivering over 50,000 data collections per annum and acquiring a further 1,000 data collections each year. In addition, the CESSDA organisations provide access gateways to important data materials and EU investments such as the European Social Survey, the Eurobarometers, the International Social Survey Programme and the European Values Surveys.

CESSDA logo CESSDA already has a critical impact on the social science research community since it provides access to numerous data collections, enabling European comparative research and contributing to thousands of theses and scientific publications. Yet further work is urgently required in the form of a major upgrade in order to strengthen, widen and make the existing infrastructure more comprehensive, efficient, effective and integrated. Researchers, not only between disciplines but also between countries, will be able to work together, developing leading-edge research methods and efficiently analysing large and complex datasets. In essence, this will make it possible for researchers to sit at their computer, locate, access, merge and analyse data from a number of different sources hence facilitating the potential for increased cross-disciplinary and cross-national research.

To this end, with the UKDA as lead partner, CESSDA has applied to the EC for special funding being made available under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to develop research infrastructures identified by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap. Negotiations with the EC are set for September, with the hope that this major new two-year project can start in January 2008.