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Front page

Number 9 (3/2002)

Editorial

Ease of access

Sami Borg November 2002

This issue of FSD NeWWWs focuses on the potential of the secondary data archived at the FSD.

FSD archives a wide range of data. Data sets can be easily ordered by using the online order forms. The use of data for research and teaching purposes is free of charge and this applies both to researchers and students. Research Methods Web Resource (MOTV in Finnish) provides a number of freely downloadable data sets for methodology courses.

FSD's home pages offer study descriptions and variable level documentation for several hundred data sets. Most data sets are large international or national surveys. Online data catalogues with attached codebooks, frequencies and questionnaires provide a detailed documentation for each data set. Several search engines can be used to locate relevant data and the archive staff is available for further information.

However, availability is only one aspect of secondary use. Researchers need information and ideas of how to utilize data collected by someone else. Many data sets form a part of survey series where the same questions have been put to different people on different times. These repeated cross-sectional studies enable research on trends. By combining information from various data sets one can make analyses of changes in small groups, e.g. age cohorts or occupational groups.

Non-serial data sets also offer numerous secondary use possibilities. Usually the main publications of the original study leave plenty of room for further analysis of the data. Secondary data are free of charge, which makes them especially suitable for students.

The follow-up of secondary use has shown that many researchers and teachers use archived data creatively alongside other research or teaching material. This is just a matter of making an effort. It is easier to seek references or examples from publications only, but more Finnish researchers could become acquainted with previous research by using secondary data. This is why FSD strives to make access to the archived data as easy as possible. The articles in this issue of FSD NeWWWs demonstrate how secondary data have been utilised. Hopefully this points out a potential for future users.

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