Electronic treasure troves - lost for good?
Sami Borg 22.03.2001
The Finnish Social Science Data Archive has started its third year of operation. Report on the activities of the two first years has just been published. The operation of the archive has been launched as originally planned. The dataset supply of the archive has increased with an annual pace of a hundred a year, and in the year 2000 the archive distributed approximately a hundred datasets for research and education purposes. In proportion to the number of stored datasets, the figure is quite satisfactory.
In the year 2000 we visited about 60 university departments or other research units to introduce our activities. The pace of these presentations continues unabated also this year. At the same time, the acquisition of datasets will increasingly focus directly on individual researchers and research projects. In the next few years, the aim is to introduce and stabilise in the Finnish social scientific community a culture supporting and utilising the basic services of the archive.
This is why the FSD is challenging researchers, teachers and research organisations to embark on a rally to preserve materials that are stored in an electronical form. The number of electronic documents serving academic social scientific research and teaching has grown tremendously during the past few years but so far, the storage of several types of materials is a far cry from being systematic.
The data archive offers a functioning solution for information services and archiving quantitative datasets as well as information services for qualitative data collected for research purposes. Outside remain, though, a great number of different types of materials for whose preservation it would be expedient to make national plans by discipline or research field.
The matter must not remain on a planning stage only; measures must be taken to preserve this electronic "folklore". In Finland, functioning examples can be found for instance in the Internet web resources serving psychology and history sciences. What is the response of other fields?
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