UKDA to lead major new European project

Article dated: 23 November 2007

Starting in January 2008, the UKDA will co-ordinate a new two-year project funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) programme. This major new award totalling 2.7 million euros is aimed at developing the Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) research infrastructure (RI), and is a direct result of the CESSDA RI being identified by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap exercise as a research network of excellence. The CESSDA network has existed for over 30 years, and now extends to 21 countries across Europe. Through its data exchange agreements CESSDA provides access gateways to important social science data materials and EU investments such as the European Social Survey, the Eurobarometers, the International Social Survey Programme and the European Values Surveys across Europe. In recent years CESSDA has developed a number of resource discovery and data management and access tools, such as Nesstar and the multilingual CESSDA data portal as a result of EC-funding.

The aim of the new project will be to plan the future development of the CESSDA RI and will focus on tackling and resolving a number of strategic, financial and legal issues in order to ensure that European social science and humanities researchers have access to, and gain support for, the data resources they require to conduct research of the highest quality, irrespective of the location of either researcher or data within the European Research Area.

Europe The project will consist of several interlinked yet individually focused work packages, including work on: developing and extending the data portal to provide a fully-integrated data infrastructure that will allow seamless access to as many data holdings across Europe as possible; developing common authentication and access middleware tools; developing metadata standards such as the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI); creating thesauri management tools; extending the coverage of the CESSDA RI to include countries from eastern Europe; strengthening the CESSDA RI through the development of professional training for data archivists and the certification of data archiving organisations; providing secure data facilities for the dissemination of data which pose statistical disclosure risks; investigating the potential of grid technologies for data dissemination and analysis; improving data harmonisations tools and the development of a European question bank of survey responses.

The research will be led by Professor Schürer, Director of the UKDA, who will act as Principal Investigator for the project.