Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives



Tour of CESSDA - The Finnish Social Science Data Archive

This series of articles highlight each of CESSDA's national service providers one at a time. Our next stop is Finland, "the land of a thousand lakes".

  • Who are you and what role do you play in CESSDA?

The Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD) was founded in 1999. FSD operates in Tampere, Finland as an independent institute of Tampere University. We are a national resource centre and our mission is to provide a single point of access to a wide range of digital research data (from Finland and about Finland) for learning, teaching and research purposes. We aim at making both data and services FAIR, and we promote responsible open science and research. We also support research methods teaching and providing other services and resources related to data.

FSD is CESSDA's service provider in Finland. We participate actively in CESSDA, where we collaborate in several work plan projects and take on leading roles in the work of the Technical, Tools & Services and Trust Working Groups. FSD is a work package leader in two CESSDA-coordinated SSHOC project work packages and contributes to other tasks in SSHOC, TRIPLE, and a number of CESSDA's internal projects.

  • When did your country become a member?

Finland became an official member of CESSDA ERIC in November 2017. However, FSD has been involved in the work of CESSDA practically from the day we started operations in 1999. Even during the preparatory phase, our director visited several CESSDA archives when envisioning our mode of operation. We hosted the CESSDA Expert Seminar back in August 2000. Check out the photos here!

  • What does your organisation bring to CESSDA?

As mentioned above, we are an active contributor to several CESSDA projects. In addition, we participate actively in communications work and other core activities of CESSDA.

FSD puts a lot of emphasis on project work and invests in the in-house training of data managers and software developers. Our strengths are especially in developing controlled vocabularies and multilingual data services, metadata management and modelling, repository certification, software engineering, anonymising research data, and processing qualitative research data. These are also the areas where we collaborate at a European level and internationally.

As one example, the Kuha2 metadata harvesting API for the CESSDA Data Catalogue is a new open source application for processing qualitative textual data at ingest phase built at FSD. It has already been put to use in three other CESSDA archives.

  • What tangible benefits does your organisation get out of being a CESSDA member?

CESSDA provides a network of organisations which have largely aligned aims when it comes to acquiring, curating, preserving and disseminating research data. As a national data archive, we need our European partners for achieving better results and providing better services.

Our involvement with CESSDA gives us various options to participate in pan-European projects, including the European Open Science Cloud. Harmonisation and standardisation are not possible without a well-functioning network, and they are core considerations when creating trusted and FAIR data services.

  • Which CESSDA tools and/or services are of interest to your organisation? (see list online)

Multilingual services are very important for the FSD. Through the CESSDA Data Catalogue, we provide information on research data available in Finland for a wider audience. All our study descriptions are available both in Finnish and English. We also translate quantitative data files into English for users who do not speak Finnish, upon request and free of charge.

We use DDI and CESSDA vocabularies both in Finnish and in English in our metadata. The CESSDA Vocabulary Service is a very handy tool for us in maintaining the Finnish versions of the vocabularies. The API provided facilitates implementing the vocabularies in our user interfaces.

FSD study descriptions in English are annotated with ELSST keywords. Users browsing the FSD data catalogue can already do thematic searches based on the ELSST keywords. We hope that at some point in the future that the CESSDA Data Catalogue will allow its users to do the same.

  • How is CESSDA helping you to make your data compliant with the FAIR Data principles?

FSD participates actively in pan-European efforts for making data FAIR. CESSDA facilitates both international collaboration and the benchmarking of our services. CESSDA metadata requirements, technical framework, and certification requirements are all contributors to making our services more FAIR. It is an advantage if "being FAIR" is interpreted in the same way across the SSH (Social Sciences and Humanities) data archives. CESSDA can help to achieve that.

  • How does the CESSDA Data Management Expert Guide help researchers to make their research data FAIR?

FSD has for a long time maintained its own Data Management Guidelines for researchers. Both our Guidelines and the CESSDA Data Management Expert Guide help researchers and students to carry out responsible and meaningful research data management throughout their research projects. These guides are complementary; while our Guidelines are closely aligned with FSD's operating procedures and data types, the CESSDA guide takes a more comprehensive approach. It is an intuitive guide and there is a steady need for this type of information whether it is for researchers seeking funding, planning on depositing their data into a repository, or simply managing their research data in a sustainable manner.

  • Which CESSDA training do staff in your organisation recommend and why?

We have found the "train the trainers" type of training particularly useful for our IT staff. The various CESSDA and CESSDA project webinars are valuable sources of information for keeping up to date with CESSDA projects and tools. We promote CESSDA's data management and other themed webinars to our customers.

  • How do you see CESSDA supporting you in 2020?

In 2020, we have two important tasks that need to be streamlined to some extent with the development of CESSDA. We are developing a new strategic plan for FSD. We are also preparing a proposal aimed at securing our position in the national Roadmap of Finnish Research Infrastructures. Both documents will be in force from 2021 to 2024.

The role of CESSDA ERIC remains central for our work in the international arena. By participating in international fora such as CESSDA, the DDI Alliance, IASSIST, and the CoreTrustSeal, FSD has the opportunity to have an impact beyond Finland. We need to continue to demonstrate the impact of our services and the advantages of CESSDA membership. To this end, the ongoing work on relevant Key Performance Indicators is essential and we look forward to using its outputs.

Read the last article in this series about PROGEDO Research Infrastructure (France).