Quality, Assessment and Development in the Finnish Social Science Data Archive

Quality assurance | Development of practices and procedures | Assessment of activities | Promotion of research | Support for teaching and studying | Social impact | Feedback

The Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD, Data Archive) is a national unit operating under the auspices of the University of Tampere. Quality management at the FSD is guided by the quality system of the University of Tampere and an appointed quality coordinator has the practical responsibility for implementing the quality system. The quality system is complemented by the FSD’s own quality management activities regarding long-term preservation and re-use of digital data. Quality management at the FSD is open, systematic and transparent.

The FSD has received the Data Seal of Approval (DSA), which can be acquired by an institution that preserves digital data in a reliable manner and enables the re-use of data.

Quality assurance

Quality assurance and quality control are an essential part of the FSD’s activities. The Data Archive’s role as a national leading expert on long-term preservation of digital research data, as a national unit for research and teaching, and as an international actor requires carefully-considered, consistent and well-instructed procedures as well as openness of activities. The FSD’s practices of long-term preservation comply with international standards. The Data Archive’s website is constantly updated to ensure the information on data and services is as comprehensive and up-to-date as possible.

Development of practices and procedures

The FSD participates actively in establishing and developing the procedures and practices of its field by, for instance, participating in the activities of international organisations, such as the DDI Alliance, which develops an international standard for describing data. The FSD is the Finnish service provider for the pan-European research infrastructure, the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives, CESSDA ERIC.

Assessment of activities

The FSD regularly conducts self-assessments of its activities. As part of the University of Tampere, the FSD conducts the self-assessment based on the Common Assessment Framework model. In addition, activities are assessed with user surveys and feedback as well as regular reports from the operational database. Implementation of the action plan is monitored in meetings throughout the year. Key figures are annually compared to those of other European data archives. Self-assessments of the reliability of long-term preservation have been conducted using the TDR standard.

Promotion of research

The Data Archive promotes the openness and transparency of scientific research, accumulation of knowledge and effective use of existing knowledge. The FSD’s basic services, archiving and dissemination of data, are its key activities in advancing and promoting research and international collaboration. The FSD also provides information service relating to the use of data and guidance on searching for data from Finland and elsewhere.

The Data Archive gives advice to researchers in research data management and questions concerning research ethics, and provides instructions on how to follow good scientific practice at different stages of the research data life cycle. Experts at the FSD participate in national seminars on research ethics and give presentations on open data, research ethics and data security. FSD’s Data Management Guidelines are available online and freely usable by anyone.

» Study descriptions on Aila Data Service
» Data Management Guidelines
» Instructions on Informing Research Participants

Support for teaching and studying

Data archived at the FSD are disseminated for teaching and study purposes, and students are an important user group for the Archive. FSD users can order presentations on re-use of research data, long-term preservation and other basic services. Presentations are given, for example, on research methods courses for students, seminars and conferences. Staff of the FSD also provide tailored, paid training in their field of expertise and inform users about select training sessions provided by FSD partner organisations.

The FSD website contains freely accessible instructions and guides to support teaching and studies, such as the Research Methods Web Resource (in Finnish), a guide to re-using quantitative data (in Finnish), the Data Management Guidelines, and pages on research ethics. These services allow flexible learning and studying that takes different kinds of learners into consideration.

Social impact

The FSD promotes the social impact of the scientific community by providing research data for re-use as well as training and information service on data management. At the national and international levels, the FSD has an active role in the institutions and organisations in the field.

The FSD actively participates in national and international cooperation and discussion in its areas of expertise and is a member of several major international organisations in the field. The FSD promotes cooperation in and the outreach of international research by having an important role in planning and funding the data collection of regularly conducted international comparative surveys. Publications based on these surveys have increased the social impact of the FSD. The holdings of the FSD and international cooperation allow Finnish researchers and students easier access to international comparative survey data. As a result of the FSD’s efforts, Finland is also included more often as one of the countries under observation in international surveys.

Feedback

We are happy to receive feedback both on this quality document and our services in general. You can send comments, criticism or suggestions to Development Manager Mari Kleemola or fsd@uta.fi.

updated 2017-03-28