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FSD Bulletin is the electronic newsletter of the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. The Bulletin provides information and news related to the data archive and social science research.
Finnish Social Science Data Archive
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Access to Data from Inter-governmental Organisations?
Preliminary Inquiry into Data Service Needs in Finland
Helena Laaksonen 20.04.2005
FSD Bulletin presented ESDS International data service (UK) in the previous issue. The data service hosts international time series statistical databanks produced by inter-governmental organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank, Eurostat, and the International Labour Organisation. The number of ESDS portfolio users has been rising steadily, and had reached 4000 by the end of February 2005.
Encouraged by the growth of ESDS International, IGOs are willing to broker national data distribution deals with other countries, Finland included. After being contacted in this matter, FSD carried out a preliminary investigation into the situation in Finland. The investigation covered access to this type of data in Finnish libraries, and the demand for an all-in-one web-based data service. An e-mail inquiry was sent to a number of libraries, and representatives of key bodies were interviewed.
Kristiina Hormia (FinELib, the National Electronic Library), Hellevi Yrjölä (Library of Statistics), Arto Mustajoki (Academy of Finland), Hannele Hermunen (Ministry of Education) and Leif Laaksonen (CSC, Finnish IT Center for Science) were interviewed. They were asked whether Finnish researchers need access to international statistical data through one single web-based interface, and how should such an interface be funded and organised.
In general, the interviewees were in favour of enhancing access to international statistical data but were split on whether access through one single user interface is necessary. On one hand, many statistical data providers provide online access to their data, and the funds needed to establish an all-in-one interface could be used for other, equally useful purposes. On the other hand, speed is of essence, and an all-in-one interface would certainly save researchers' time and effort. An all-in-one data service could also provide user support and advice.
If such a data service were established, co-operation between different bodies would be needed. Statistics Finland, FSD and FinELib were mentioned as possible partners.
Access to IGO statistical data in Finland
Finland's National Electronic Library (FinELib) has negotiated a consortium deal with Source OECD. The deal includes over 30 statistical databases. However, member organisations decide independently which of the FinELib's services they offer to their clients. This means that SourceOECD is not available in all university libraries. In addition, most member organisations are located in Southern Finland.
FinELib provides statistical publications from the World Bank: World Development Indicators ja Global Development Finance. United Nations Common Database (UNCDB) seems to be available in only two Finnish libraries. International Financial Statistics (IFS) database provided by the UN is available in the Helsinki School of Economics Library. Other databases included in the ESDS International portfolio are available online only in the Library of Statistics. Elsewhere, one must resort to paper publications, CD Roms or DVD disks.
The statistical databases provided by Eurostat and the ILO are now freely available online on their web pages.