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The UK's largest digital collection of social sciences and population research data

In an attempt to try to resolve several of the weaknesses affecting CESSDA, this project successfully overcame many obstacles that stood in the way of developing the Research Infrastructure further. The upgrade resulted in an increase of resources, which are now shared and used across Europe.

This project arose as a direct result of the Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) Research Infrastructure (RI) being identified by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap exercise as an existing pan-European RI recommended for a major upgrade (European Roadmap for Research Infrastructures Report, 2006). This project was made possible due to an award from a Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) call, specifically targeted at providing a preparatory phase for RIs recognised in the ESFRI Roadmap process.

The central task of this project was to prepare the CESSDA RI for a major upgrade to make sure European social science and humanities (SSH) researchers have access to, and gain support for, data resources they require to conduct research of the highest quality, irrespective of the location of either researcher or data in the European Research Area.

Despite being a mature network, existing for 30 years, CESSDA continued to suffer from a number of weaknesses which act to limit its effectiveness and range of activities. This project consisted of several interlinked yet individually focused work packages (WPs) which were collectively aimed at tackling and resolving a number of strategic, financial and legal impediments, before further development of the RI, together with a single technical WP, which aims at producing various prototypes prior to implementation.

In addressing these concerns, the upgrade has developed CESSDA from a situation in which the member organisations work with limited national resources, to create a common platform, sharing a common mission, with a stronger form of integration in which expertise is genuinely pooled, shared and applied in a co-ordinated pan-European experience. This has facilitated the delivery of a fully-integrated data archive infrastructure for the SSH, allowing seamless, permanent access to as many data holdings across Europe as possible.

Archive contribution

The UK Data Archive was the co-ordinating partner for this award, and thus responsible for the overall management. The Archive also led the work to define the governance, legal, financial and strategic development of the infrastructure. It made direct contributions to a number of areas of work including: grid technology; development of controlled vocabularies and multilingual thesaurus; portal development; and prototyping.

Principal investigator: Kevin Schürer
Funder: European Commission - FP7
Dates: January 2008 - June 2010
Contact: UK Data Service helpdesk