Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives

4

Mar
2021

A new data archive and CESSDA service provider in Belgium!

Despite the unprecedented crisis that struck us in 2020, Belgium formally launched its data archive for social sciences and digital humanities.

SODHA (Social Sciences and Digital Humanities Archive) was inaugurated in October 2020 as a new service at the State Archives of Belgium.

For more than 20 years, Belgium had no dedicated repository for the preservation and dissemination of social science research data. The Belgian Archives for Social Sciences (BASS), hosted at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), closed in 1998 due to a lack of funding. Now, thanks to the joint efforts of the State Archives, UCLouvain, and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgian researchers in social sciences and digital humanities can safely store their data and access reusable datasets.

SODHA provides researchers with a robust infrastructure that helps them manage their data. Belgium produces high quality research in the social sciences, and in the age of open science, highlighting scientific accomplishments involves opening access to data collections. To this end, SODHA not only offers a user-friendly online platform, it also safekeeps the interests of all parties involved — researchers, depositors, students, research centres, universities, funding agencies — thanks to a well-defined legal framework.

SODHA focusses on the needs of its users. In 2018 a nation-wide survey was conducted among all research centres in social sciences in Belgian universities. Thanks to a high response rate, there is now a clear overview of the needs and practices of social scientists in terms of research data management. The State Archives are currently working on broadening the scope of SODHA to include digital humanities and potentially other research disciplines in the future.

“Scientific data are invaluable research materials for scientists and historians alike. Archivists are information specialists who cater to the needs of different target audiences,” stated Karel Velle, Director of the State Archives. “Our expertise in digital object management makes the State Archives the perfect institution for hosting a service such as SODHA!”

“We are delighted to welcome SODHA as a new data service provider of CESSDA and look forward to working closely together in our various projects towards achieving FAIR and open data,” stated Ron Dekker, Director of CESSDA.