CESSDA Expert Seminar

Article dated: 30 November 2007

The Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) Expert Seminars have taken place annually since 1987. This year the seminar was held at the UK Data Archive on the 27 and 28 September to cover the theme of 'Developing the CESSDA Portal'. Twenty-eight delegates from thirteen separate organisations joined staff from the UKDA in a two-day series of discussions on how to develop the recently launched CESSDA Portal web site. Sessions included the technical and metadata issues of participating in the Portal, ways to increase data coverage and services, authentication, access and the development of a CESSDA intranet. CESSDA logo

The format of the seminar was a radical change from previous years. Normally CESSDA Expert Seminars sessions cover the sharing of practical information on data archiving practices at individual European archives. This year the focus was on blue sky development of joint services via the CESSDA web site with a particular focus on improving the functionality and content of the Data Portal, part of the overall CESSDA Portal.

The CESSDA Data Portal was released earlier this year and at present only 11 of the 20 CESSDA members are active participants in it. However the long term goal is for the Data Portal to become a one-stop shop for European datasets of interest to social science and humanities researchers. Discussion at the Expert Seminar revolved around both short- and long-term issues of increasing participation, firstly within CESSDA, then within the broader Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) international metadata community and finally to data collections outside of both these spheres.

Since the portal will be a gateway to an increasing number of resources as it matures, it was felt essential that at any one time users should be informed of the extent of the collections across which they were searching.

It was also agreed that access to datasets held at various resources across Europe would require additional registration of users on top of any national authentication to ensure that data were only disseminated to authorised researchers. Individual CESSDA members would also have to become Shibboleth Identity Providers to cover users outside of present national authentication systems.

The full seminar programme can be found on the CESSDA Portal web site. Prior to the Expert Seminar the delegates attended a half-day workshop on the forthcoming release of DDI v3.0, presented by Sanda Ionescu from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). The seminar was followed by an excursion to discover 'Hidden London'.