CESSDA ERIC Launched in 2010
Sami Borg | Photo by: Mari Männistö
Developing European research infrastructures has been a central objective in science policy this decade. It has been promoted since 2002 in the ESFRI process, which has operated as an inter-governmental decision-making and strategy forum.
The process has been significant for the social sciences and humanities, because SSH research infrastructures have also been included in the project. Earlier on, it has mainly been the very large devices, research centres, and laboratoriums in technical, natural and medical sciences that have been perceived as research infrastructures. Now, the recognition of central SSH data resources and services has offered a possibility to participate in the process.
The European Roadmap for Research Infrastructures was completed in 2006 and updated last year, and the first new research infrastructures are to commence operation already in 2010. Securing the development of ESFRI projects has also required new EU legislation, which has allowed the new research infrastructures to become legal entities.
This is also the case with the national social science data archives. CESSDA (Council of European Social Science Data Archives) is shifting from a loose cooperative organisation it has been into a new organisation, ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium). Compatible with the new community legislation, CESSDA ERIC is a legal entity with its own central unit and some centralised services, joint databases and education.
It is not yet fully certain when CESSDA ERIC starts its operations and which countries are involved as full members straight from the beginning. The question is about money and political will. The first national Finnish roadmap on research infrastructures was published early this year. The FSD and CESSDA are among the centrally developed support services on the roadmap. The additional financing needed by the research infrastructures is still largely an open question in Finland.
Financing should not be a great obstacle to participating especially in the ESFRI projects related to culture and society research. Finland's annual share of the expenses of the new infrastructure will probably not exceed a couple of percents.
It would be sensible that the Ministry of Education together with the Academy of Finland would offer the resources for Finland's participation in all the SSH projects in ESFRI, in which Finns have had an active role. CESSDA ERIC is one of them. Full membership would provide the best possibilities to influence the development of infrastructures and the easiest possible access to rapidly developing services for Finnish researchers. Finland's active participation in European research infrastructures should be a central and necessary part of the Finnish science policy.
» TSV / The Finnish Research Infrastructure Survey and Roadmap Project
» CESSDA ERIC Preparatory Phase Project