The Archive works with and keeps abreast of international metadata standards in documenting social science and historical data. We have collated a number of useful and freely available resources and tools in this area.

International metadata standards and schemes

Data Documentation Initiative (DDI)

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative

Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS)

Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

ISO 19115 for Geographic Information

Open Archives Initiative (OAI)

General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G))

Qualitative Data Exchange Format QuDEx V3 is a draft open data exchange format released as an XML schema which addresses the problem of incompatibility between qualitative data formats and analysis software. The UK Data Archive has worked on developing an intermediate data exchange format. The project worked closely with a number of key software vendors in order to gain support for take-up of and sustainability of a format/standard. The QuDEx schema is available with full documentation and a viewer, and is currently being integrated into the DDI.

SDMX Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange is an initiative to foster standards for the exchange of aggregated statistical information. The major focus is on data presented as time series, although cross-sectional XML formats are also supported. There are links to websites where tools are made available to the user community, generally for free.

DDI tools

DDI Alliance Tools portal. The Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) Foundation Tools Program (DDI-FTP), initiated by the DDI Alliance, aims to develop and support the implementation of DDI applications and utilities. The Program consists of a collection of co-ordinated projects whose outputs will be designed to interoperate. Various utilities are available to download from the DDI tools portal, and more will be added.

DeXtris is an open source utility developed by the Open Data Foundation (ODaF), to explore XML statistical metadata. It runs in a standard web browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer, and can convert between different versions of the DDI.

Microdata Management Toolkit, developed by the International Household Survey Network (IHSN) - a partnership of international organisations seeking to improve the availability, quality and use of survey data in developing countries - includes a DDI/Dublin Core compliant Metadata Editor, a modified Nesstar Explorer to read the metadata files, and a CD-ROM Builder, and is available to download from the IHSN website, alongside comprehensive survey methodology and related documentation.

Data collection deposit forms, developed by the UK Data Archive, are used by data creators to enter information about studies deposited at the UK Data Archive. The form is subsequently used to create the study's Data Catalogue record. The program outputs a DDI compliant XML document.

DExT SPSS Reader application, developed as part of the DExT project, converts data and metadata typically stored in proprietary binary formats (SPSS) into a generic format and a DDI record for long-term preservation. It also enables conversion to files for use with various statistical analysis packages (such as MSExcel, SPSS, Stata, SAS) or database management systems.

Online data browsing tools

Nesstar is a software system for data publishing and online analysis. The Nesstar software consists of a set of tools which enable the publication of data and metadata, web-based dissemination and analysis, and data visualisation using maps, graphs and tables.

SDA project utilities - a number of DDI utilities have been made available by the Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) project, based at the University of California at Berkeley.

The VDC Dataverse Network, based at Harvard University, has created the Dataverse Network (DVN), a complete open source data archival system, with multiple features and capabilities.

Context for qualitative data

Bishop, L. (2006) 'A Proposal for Archiving Context for Secondary Analysis', 1(2) Methodological Innovations Online [Special Issue: Defining context for qualitative data], pp.10-20. doi: 10.4256/mio.2006.0008 Retrieved 29 August 2012, from

Hadfield, L. (2010) 'Balancing on the edge of the archive: the researcher's role in collecting and preparing data for deposit', in Shirani, F. and Weller, S. (eds) Conducting qualitative longitudinal research: fieldwork experiences, Timescapes Working Paper 2. Retrieved 07 September 2012, from

Hammersley, M. (2010) 'Can we re-use qualitative data via secondary analysis? Notes on some terminological and substantive issues', Sociological Research Online 15 [1]. Retrieved 16 August 2011 from

Holstein, J. and Gubrium, J. (2004). 'Context: working it up, down, and across' in Seale, C. et al. (eds.) Qualitative research practice, London: Sage.

Irwin, S. and Winterton, M. (2011) Debates in qualitative secondary analysis: critical reflections, Timescapes Working Paper 4. Retrieved 07 September 2012, from

Jones, D. and Haynes, J. (2011) 'A tale of two analyses: the use of archived qualitative data' (forthcoming).

Mason, J. (2007) '"Re-using" qualitative data: on the merits of an investigative epistemology', Sociological Research Online, 12(3). Retrieved 16 August 2011 from

Mauthner, N.S., Parry, O. and Backett-Milburn, K. (1998) 'The data are out there, or are they? Implications for archiving and revisiting qualitative data', Sociology 32 (4), pp.733-45.

Moore, N. (2007) '(Re)Using qualitative data?' Sociological Research Online 12 (3), Retrieved 16 August 2011 from

Van den Berg, H. (2005) 'Reanalyzing qualitative interviews from different angles: the risk of decontextualization and other problems of sharing qualitative data', Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research [Online journal], 6(1).

Other tools

International Association for Social Science Information Service and Technology (IASSIST) members share professional resources useful to them in their daily work.

Other data documentation guidelines

Arts and Humanities Data Service GIS Guide to Good Practice