Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives



Study shows active use of data from CESSDA Finnish Archive FSD across research fields

A recent study at Tampere University examined data downloads from the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD). The results show that the data archived at FSD are actively reused and that data citation practices are improving.

Furthermore, the study suggests that data reuse is not restricted by the domain or location of a data repository.

The Open Science culture is gaining ground globally, though attitudes towards opening access to research data and data management practices are affected by researchers’ concerns about whether the opened data are reused.

A research article by Elina Late and Jaana Kekäläinen from Tampere University, published in the PLOS One journal, examined the use and users of data archived at FSD. The results show that FSD’s holdings are reused actively by students and researchers in various fields in Finland and abroad.

The study concentrated on the number and type (quantitative/qualitative) of downloaded data sets, the number of data citations, the demographic information about the data downloaders and the purposes for which data were downloaded. Data were drawn from FSD usage statistics for the years 2015–2018. The data used in the study is openly downloadable from Aila.

The results show fluctuation in the number of annual data downloads and a growing awareness about research data sharing and the benefits of data reuse. The number of total data downloads increased in 2016 and 2017 but decreased in 2018. In more recent statistics, which were not included in the study, the decreasing trend continued in 2019, however, we have observed a significant increase in the number of downloads so far in 2020.

In comparison with a previous study, the researchers noticed an overall increase in the reuse of both quantitative and qualitative data, and the proportion of qualitative data downloads has increased steadily since 2015.

The findings of the study also showed that data citation practices are improving and becoming more established. In comparison with a previous study, the study also noted an increase in data citations.

The demographic information about the data downloaders revealed that social science research data are also actively reused in fields not directly affiliated with the social sciences. Nearly one in five users downloading data represented natural, medical or technical sciences, or the humanities.

As FSD provides data descriptions in English for all data and translates quantitative data files on request into English, FSD data are also reused actively by foreign researchers both inside and outside Finland. The study noted that while most Finnish data reusers downloading data are students, reusers from abroad downloading data are mostly researchers.

The data used in the study is openly downloadable from FSD.

FSD Data Downloads 2020