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Number 2/2001

Editorial

Initiative to fund international comparative research

Sami Borg 13.6.2001

The Advisory Board of the Finnish Social Science Data Archive want to strengthen Finnish participation in international research programmes. A proposal made at the beginning of the year to the Ministry of Education aims at funding a new infrastructure for collecting data in the field of social sciences. It would strengthen the Finnish participation in the cross-national comparative projects (e.g. ESS, ISSP, WVS, LIS).

The main idea of the initiative is to reserve an annual sum of 100 000 Euro at the highest for collecting material for international comparative projects in empirical social science. The infrastructure-related nature of the project becomes evident by pointing out that in international projects, researchers and secondary users obtaining datasets from data archives in other countries might utilise them more than researchers in charge of the national projects.

From a national point of view, participation provides good research input value because comparisons on one's own country are mainly financed by other countries. In many countries, international comparative data have become an important and popular research and teaching resource for social sciences. National as well as international data can be made available to researchers and students through the FSD.

The growing need for comparative data has in recent years become apparent at meetings and in the documents of several international organisations like the OECD, UNESCO and the European Union. The interest of the EU in the matter can be seen, for instance, in the preliminary sketch of the EU for the Sixth Framework Programme for research.

Along with the Ministry of Education, the role of the Academy of Finland in financing various research projects would remain significant. Its responsibilities would include funding of programme-related research projects (perhaps with the exception of data collection costs) and financing of projects carried out within the framework of the Academy's international co-operation organisations like the ESF.

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