European Services for Research in Social Sciences and Humanities
The European Union aims to be a top a research area in the world. This is why efforts have been made to ensure that data, services, tools and know-how can be effectively utilised by European researchers regardless of their organisation or country. To achieve this, the EU has developed a separate legal entity, the European Research Infrastructure Consortium, ERIC.
Individual ERICs may focus on, for example, in producing significant research data series or facilitating the use of data in a certain field of study. The common purpose of all ERICs is to act as building blocks in a Europe-wide infrastructure where services, tools and data are easily available for researchers wherever they work.
At the moment, there are altogether five ERICs for the social sciences and humanities: CESSDA offers data services for social scientists, CLARIN focuses on language data, DARIAH is a pan-European network for digital humanists, and the ESS and SHARE both produce high-quality survey data.
Finland is involved in all of the ERICs for the social sciences and humanities in one way or another. Finland joined the infrastructure of social science data archives, CESSDA, in November 2017 and FSD became its Finnish national service provider. Finland has been a member of CLARIN, the infrastructure for language resources and technology, through FIN-CLARIN since 2015. Finland has participated in the European Social Survey for over 15 years, and last year we took part in the data collection of SHARE for the first time. In recent years, the University of Helsinki and Aalto University have also started increasing Finnish participation in the DARIAH network.
European researchers should take a look at the services offered by ERICs and make the best use of them. Even the best infrastructures can advance science and research only if researchers actively use the services in their work.
A good starting point to using these services is to read the brief descriptions of the ERICs for the social sciences and humanities below and visit their websites.
- Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives
- Provides the international academic community with data services, including archiving, management and dissemination as well as related training. A data catalogue providing access to research data from archives across Europe will be launched in early 2018.
- Collaboration between European social science data archives began as early as 1970s.
- CESSDA was established as a permanent legal entity in 2013.
- The European Commission awarded CESSDA with the ERIC status in June 2017.
- CESSDA Main Office is located in Bergen and its chief executive officer and legal representative is Director Ron Dekker.
- Finland was accepted as CESSDA member in November 2017, and FSD officially became a national service provider.
- Read more: cessda.eu
- European Social Survey
- Survey series conducted every two years covering over 20 European countries. The survey consists of a core section that remains the same each collection round and rotating sections with changing themes. The themes in the most recent survey, conducted in 2016, included welfare attitudes and attitudes to climate change.
- Measures attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of Europeans.
- The data are available free of charge for registered users on the ESS website.
- ESS was awarded the ERIC status in November 2013.
- Headquarters are located in City, University of London, UK.
- Finland has participated in all ESS collection rounds since 2002. The University of Turku has the main responsibility for conducting the Finnish surveys. Finland applied for ESS membership in autumn 2017.
- Read more: europeansocialsurvey.org
- Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure
- Infrastructure that develops services related to language data for the humanities and social sciences, including access to digital language data, advanced tools to discover and analyse data, and training.
- In Finland, the national FIN-CLARIN consortium comprises a number of Finnish universities, the Institute for the Languages of Finland, and the CSC – IT Center for Science, which is responsible for the maintenance of the services in Finland.
- The services of FIN-CLARIN are available in the Language Bank of Finland, which allows researchers to search and download language data free of charge and use the tools provided to analyse the data.
- CLARIN was awarded the ERIC status in February 2012 and FIN-CLARIN in November 2015.
- After CLARIN became an ERIC, it has become easier for researchers from outside of Finland to access the services of the Language Bank.
- Read more: clarin.eu and kielipankki.fi
- Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe
- Survey on health, well-being and socio-economic status of people aged over 50. Conducted every two years and covers most of the European Union.
- SHARE’s cross-national panel design enables various kinds of comparisons. The survey is also harmonised with the US Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).
- Data are available to researchers through the SHARE Research Data Center free of charge.
- SHARE was awarded the ERIC status in March 2011 and became the first ERIC in the social sciences and humanities.
- Headquarters are located in the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA), Germany.
- Data have been collected since 2004. Headed by the Family Federation of Finland, the first Finnish SHARE survey was conducted in 2017. For countries participating in SHARE for the first time in 2017, the theme of the survey was SHARE-life charting the respondents’ life course, including childhood family, work history, and important life events.
- Read more: share-project.org
- Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities
- International network that aims to support research in the arts and humanities, and provide services for scholars working with computational methods. Connects hundreds of scholars and dozens of research facilities all over Europe.
- Organises workshops and summer schools, and provides training materials to researchers.
- DARIAH attained the ERIC status in November 2014.
- DARIAH’s formal seat is in Paris, but administration, communications and funding activities also take place in Germany and the Netherlands.
- Currently, 17 countries are members of DARIAH. In addition, several individual universities and research facilities from non-member countries are partners.
- University of Helsinki and Aalto University are involved in DARIAH as cooperating partners from Finland.
- Read more: dariah.eu
Text: Kaisa Järvelä