A brief introduction to CESSDA's mission, members and history.

The vision of CESSDA, as stated in its statutes, is to provide a full scale sustainable research infrastructure that enables the research community to conduct high-quality research which in turn leads to effective solutions to the major challenges facing society today.

CESSDA will support national and international research and cooperation in areas expected to be of great importance in the future. The primary objectives of CESSDA are to facilitate and promote more and wider use of high-quality data in social, economic and political research and in turn, improve our understanding of ongoing societal processes, the problems involved and the solutions available.

The objective of CESSDA is to provide a comprehensive, distributed and integrated social science data research infrastructure which will facilitate and support research, teaching and learning of the highest quality throughout the social sciences in the European Research Area and increase the impact of the activities of its members.

CESSDA already has a critical impact on the social sciences and related research communities, as it provides access to numerous data collections, enabling European comparative research and contributing to thousands of theses and scientific publications.

A major upgrade is necessary, however, in order to strengthen and widen the existing research infrastructure and make it more comprehensive, efficient, effective, integrated and pan-European. The aim of this upgraded infrastructure is to enable researchers to work together within and across research fields, regions and countries, developing leading-edge research methods and tools to analyse all forms of data relevant to social science research.


In June 2013, CESSDA was established as a permanent legal entity owned and financed by the individual member states’ ministry of research or a delegated institution. Norway is hosting CESSDA, and the main office is located in Bergen.

CESSDA had its official launch in Bergen on 5 December 2013. CESSDA AS is a Norwegian limited liability company solely owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, and functions as the legal vehicle for the consortium. It is based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry and each of the members. The consortium is organised as a distributed infrastructure where each member, represented by a national research authority, has a designated Service Provider that meets specific demands and requirements specified in the Statutes.

There are currently fifteen European countries which are members of CESSDA: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom. In addition, the Slovak Republic is an observer of CESSDA (see National Data Services).

Each member is represented by a national institution, a Service Provider, which is responsible for providing relevant services. The Service Providers constitute the CESSDA main resource, and CESSDA integrates the work of the Service Providers by establishing a one-stop shop for data location, access, analysis and delivery. Software development will increase the quality of available data. Data from sources currently outside CESSDA will also become available. CESSDA will create a more dynamic knowledge management web, contribute to metadata initiatives, improve existing technical infrastructures, promote capacity building, support less developed and less well-resourced organisations, and work toward a widening of CESSDA.

CESSDA was recognised as an ESFRI Landmark in the ESFRI 2016 Roadmap in the field of social and cultural innovation. Prior to that, CESSDA featured in the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmaps of 2006 and 2008 as well as being listed as one of the ESFRI Success Stories under “Research Infrastructures in the implementation phase” in the Strategy Report on Research Infrastructures Roadmap 2010. In 2014, CESSDA was categorised as an already “implemented” project in Prioritisation of Support to ESFRI Projects for Implementation under “Social and Cultural Innovation Strategy Working Group”.

On 30 June 2010, the CESSDA PPP project came to a formal end. It was a direct result of the CESSDA RI being identified by the above mentioned ESFRI Roadmap exercise as a research network of excellence. The work carried out during the project period served as a basis for the construction phase of the new European Research Infrastructure Consortium that exists today. For more information on CESSDA PPP, please vist the project website.