FSD Bulletin

Issue 15 (3/2004)
8.2.2005

ISSN 1795-5262

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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.


FSD

Finnish Social Science Data Archive
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E-mail: fsd@tuni.fi


Editorial

OECD and Open Access to Public Data

Sami Borg 8.2.2005

The degree to which research data collected with public funding are available for research varies from country to country. In the United States and other Anglo-Saxon countries data collected by the authorities are seen to belong to the public domain, and a great effort is made to provide access for scientists.

The main source of statistical data in Finland is Statistics Finland. During the past few years, Statistics Finland has made some of its datasets openly available on the Internet. Still, university scholars do not have access to the majority of micro data collected by the institution, mainly because of the high fees. Quality of research in Finland would improve if organisations like Statistics Finland were rewarded in funding for making their data as widely available as possible.

Lack of open access to data from public funding, and inadequate documentation for secondary use are international problems. At the same time, globalisation increases the need for comparative research on different aspects of the societies. When information is collected from various countries, comparative research nearly always reveals serious problems with the standardisation and comparability of data. As access to data is not open enough, few researchers are interested in making an effort to improve comparability and standardisation.

OECD has sought to solve this problem with the Declaration on Access to Research Data from Public Funding, signed in Paris in January 2004. The declaration aims to maximise the value derived from public investments in data collection by increasing open access to data, especially electronic data. However, the declaration in itself does not change the current situation overnight, but the implementation of the forthcoming OECD guidelines on open access to data will show how much progress we will make in the near future.