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Social science research:

European research data to be collected in Bergen

A pan-European centre for archiving social science-related data was officially launched in Bergen recently. Norway will permanently host this vital piece in the modern array of research infrastructure being developed throughout Europe.

The headquarters for the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA), which has figured on both the European and Norwegian roadmaps of strategically important research infrastructure for several years, was opened on 5 December by Robert-Jan Smits, EU Director-General for Research and Innovation.

Makes large amounts of data accessible

Election studies, language usage, divorce figures, opinion surveys and consumer behaviour are just a few of the myriad of data sets stored at CESSDA. The archives also contain information from the Europe-wide surveys European Social Survey and Eurobarometers.

Many of the data sets span a period of nearly 30 years. Now all data sets are being stored in formats that enable researchers to find and share them more easily. Standardised data from different countries also promotes cross-national surveys, strengthening research activities and providing new insight and knowledge.

Photo: NSD/Bjarne Øymyr The establishment of CESSDA formalises 40 years of European data sharing, says Bjørn Henrichsen. (Photo: NSD/Bjarne Øymyr) “The social sciences are very advanced in terms of data sharing and have long traditions in this regard,” says Bjørn Henrichsen, who will head CESSDA during its start-up period. “The establishment of CESSDA formalises 40 years of European cooperation in this area.”

“Now a single organisation will be in place to manage a huge volume of data and many different users,” adds Mr Henrichsen. Currently, 13 European countries are members of CESSDA, but he expects closer to 20 to have joined in the course of the first year.

It is the ministries of research in the individual member states that are the CESSDA members.

“We must give priority to laboratories, equipment and databases”

Europe is now jointly developing a comprehensive framework of modern research infrastructures. Scientific equipment, databases and laboratories are often so large and costly that few if any countries have the means to establish and run them alone.

In its input to the 2015 national budget, the Research Council of Norway recommends an increase of NOK 90 million in Norway’s allocations for research infrastructure.

“Norwegian participation in the pan-European infrastructure projects requires significant investment sums,” says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council. “But this is imperative for ensuring that Norwegian researchers have access to modern, updated laboratories, databases and scientific equipment. Put simply, it is absolutely essential to our ability to develop innovative research groups.”

Written by:
Synnøve Bolstad/Else Lie. Translation: Darren McKellep/Carol B. Eckmann
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