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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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FSD User Survey 2008
Ordering Data Is Easy
The FSD's second user survey was conducted in February. According to its results, users consider the data archive helpful, professional and necessary. The basic services provided by the archive are in active use and are considered to be useful. The most popular source of information is the data archive's website. Depositing data is regarded as a merit and the idea of research funders requiring archiving is supported.
Helpful, professional and necessary
The results of the user survey suggest that the FSD has a good image. The respondents consider the data archive helpful (68%), professional (54%) and necessary (43%).
Ordering data is easy and quick according to the customers. The services of the data archive are relevant to the users' work or studies (80%) and the number of datasets considered interesting is sufficient (69%). Most users think that the data ordered from the FSD helped them to complete their job faster (72%) and to cut down research expenses (64%). Although the users seem to find quite easily what they are looking for in the FSD data catalogue (66%), searching for datasets on the FSD website (59%), especially on the variable level (39%), is not considered as easy.
Actively used basic services considered useful
Four out of five respondents had ordered research data and almost a third were depositors. The users frequently view the data catalogue, codebooks and questionnaires on the FSD website. The Research Methods Web Resource (MOTV), the FSD Bulletin as well as news are popular services. These services are also regarded as useful.
Although only a few respondents have used the web pages on informing research participants and research ethics, many of them consider these services useful anyway. Many of the FSD's additional services (mailing list, presentations, Thesaurus, Vaalimaatti election service, and Finnish Party Agenda Database POHTIVA) are still relatively unknown to basic users.
Figure 1. The use and usefulness of the FSD's services (%).
Depositing data regarded as merit
Depositors are satisfied with the FSD's archiving services. Depositing instructions are clear (91%), information on data processing is sufficient (86%), and data security procedures are very reliable (86%). Nine out of ten depositors regard depositing data as a merit, and almost half of them feel they have also benefited from archiving: their data are safe, stay in readable format and receive exposure. In addition, two out of three respondents support the idea of Finnish research funders requiring archiving data for the benefit of the scientific community.
Website and personal email used for contact
The respondents receive information about the activities and services of the FSD mainly through the FSD website (71%) and the emails sent by the staff (41%). The importance of the FSD Bulletin, news and mailing list as information sources is rather small, although the respondents would like to receive more information through them as well. The grapevine, colleagues and friends appeared to be good sources of information. The users would also like to receive more information directly from their own universities.
The FSD was applauded for its fast, reliable and friendly user service. However, there were also suggestions for improvement. Here are some of them:
- "The FSD could be better known among students and university staff."
- "It would be good if the data of Statistics Finland could be ordered through the FSD."
- "The Research Methods Web Resource (MOTV) should contain more examples - as well as more diverse/complex examples - on the use of multivariate methods!"
- "In the future, the FSD could focus even more on training, for instance by organising courses on the use of various research methods and programs."
On survey implementation
The users' opinions on the FSD's data service, data repository, website, and information provision were charted with an internet survey in February 2008. The technical implementation of the survey was carried out by Xestia.
The survey was aimed at users who had ordered data from the FSD between 2005 and 2007 and all data depositors. Altogether 667 users received an email about the questionnaire, and 192 responded. The majority of the respondents were researchers (23%), undergraduates (20%) and professors or research directors (17%). The most frequent scientific disciplines among the respondents were social sciences (43%) and political science (15%).
The results of the first FSD user survey carried out in 2003 can be found in a previous issue of the FSD Bulletin.