Depositing Data

Advantages of archiving

FSD provides services for archiving, preserving and disseminating data. Both researchers and the scientific community as a whole benefit if data are archived, because

  • accessibility of data increases openness of research,
  • open access enhances scientific discussion,
  • many datasets contain material that have not yet been analysed,
  • secondary use of publicly funded data increases efficient use of resources,
  • existing data may be used for new research questions,
  • archiving will ensure long-term preservation of data,
  • the Archive will take care of procedures needed to ensure data privacy and secrecy.

The Academy of Finland recommends that social science research projects funded by the Academy archive their data at FSD. Scientific publications often require that the data are archived prior to the publication of the paper.


Archiving does not generally affect copyright ownership. Depositors can specify conditions on data use, and re-users must submit to the conditions set by the depositor and the archive. Data are disseminated for research, teaching and learning purposes only.

What kind of data are archived?

FSD acquires data which are of interest for research and teaching. The acquired data are mostly in electronic format, and are either quantitative or qualitative (i.e. speech, visual images or text). Researchers are encouraged to deposit their data for archiving if any of the following criteria are met:

  • the data have potential for comparative study
  • the data can be used to complement other data
  • only part of the data have been analysed in original research
  • the data have potential for further analysis (e.g. allow new hypotheses or methodological focuses)
  • scientific publication requires that the data be available for the scientific community before the article is published

A dataset may either be archived at FSD or merely described in the archive database, without actually being archived. In the latter case, the copyright owner must negotiate him/herself with potential re-users about data use conditions, delivery etc. For archived data, the data archive processes datasets for re-use, and takes care of access applications and delivery.

See additional information on depositing qualitative data.

Requirements for archiving

Data can be archived if the following requirements are met:

  • copyright has been cleared,
  • there are no legal impediments to archiving,
  • the original purpose of data collection does not prevent archiving,
  • the dataset is technically suitable and well-documented

Under certain conditions, it is possible to archive datasets containing personal identifiers. In that case, the archive will first anonymise the data. Data in paper format may be deposited at the archive only if they are considered to be valuable for research, and can be transferred to an electronic format at reasonable cost.

Depositing procedures

It is recommended that persons willing to deposit their data at FSD contact the archive beforehand. FSD staff are happy to offer advice and information on the deposit process.

To deposit a dataset, you need to fill in these two forms:

  1. Dataset Description (pdf)
  2. Deposition Agreement (pdf)

The forms are available in alternative formats on our forms page.

The completed forms are sent to FSD, together with the data and supplementary material (e.g. questionnaire, coding instructions, interview questions). Supplementary material may be delivered in paper or digital format, or in both.

Completing the Dataset Description form

Providing sufficient information on the technical properties and content of the dataset is vital. Instead of completing the form (or in addition to it), the depositor may deliver the research report to the archive or, alternatively, a copy of the part of the report covering data collection and content.

Data files and formats

The depositor may deliver data files to FSD in their existing digital format. If conversion to another format is needed, the archive will do it.

Transferring data to FSD

In most cases, data files may be delivered to the archive as an attachment to an e-mail. If the file is very big or contains sensitive information, the depositor should discuss the best transfer method with the archive. It is possible to use a file transfer or send a disk by post. Supplementary material may be also delivered by post. If the file is very large, or the data contain sensitive information, please contact FSD before any delivery.

Data processing procedures

First, the deposited dataset is checked thoroughly. In the case of quantitative data, variables are identified, and their consistency with the questionnaire checked, the functionality of filter variables is examined, and missing data reviewed. Variable and value labels are constructed based on the questionnaire. Constructed variables created by the researcher are usually deleted so that the archived data consist mainly of variables directly connected to the questionnaire. The archive primarily uses the SPSS programme to check and process data. All alterations to data are carefully documented.

When processing qualitative data, the archive converts digital textual data to RTF format and paper data mostly to PDF, to provide cross-platform usability. Consistency of internal metadata (file naming, labelling) is checked.

Particular attention is paid to data privacy. If needed, the dataset is anonymised. Anonymisation may involve checking the anonymisation procedures carried out by the original researcher(s) or alternatively, the archive staff may do the anonymisation. The level of anonymisation to be adopted is largerly dependent on the information given to research subjects or the content of the consent agreement.

When a deposited dataset has been processed into an archival version, the dataset is described and related material (for instance, interview questions, writing competition announcement, questionnaire) are converted into a digital format. The study description and the related material are stored in FSD databases, from which online data catalogues are generated.

Suggest material to be archived

Have you yourself collected research data? Or are you aware of quantitative or qualitative data which should be archived at FSD? Make a suggestion by e-mail to or fill in our online form.

If you have questions, please contact FSD.

updated 2013-12-02