FSD Bulletin

Issue 17 (2/2005)
23.06.2005

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.


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Finnish Social Science Data Archive
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DDI Version 3.0 Published Next Year

Data Description Format Expands

Mari Kleemola 23.6.2005

The objective of data archiving is to preserve data and promote secondary use. A re-user is usually someone else than the data collector. Data can also be used for other purposes than have been used in original researches. In order to ensure the usability of data, a lot of metadata about data collection, sampling procedures and variables have to be recorded.

All the research data archived at the Finnish Social Science Data Archive are described using the DDI format (Data Documentation Initiative). The first version which was employed at FSD was the DDI's beta-version from 1999. Nowadays, FSD employs the DDI 2.0 published in 2003.

Even though the version number has changed, the structure and essential parts of the DDI have remained the same. However, data archives' needs and expectations of the description format have grown. Besides, the users of the DDI do not consist of just archives anymore, but also of data producers and statistical organisations. The present DDI is suitable for recording metadata about individual survey studies. But when it comes to panel, series or cross-national comparative studies, problems occur.

The DDI Version 3.0 will be published next year. It will provide a solution to describing complex data as well as supporting the entire life cycle of research data. The new version will accommodate an expanded set of metadata. Its structure will become clearly more modular, for example, there will be separate sections for describing research instrument, data series and aggregate data. It will be easier for users to choose the sections they need and ignore those they do not need.

The DDI employs XML language. Version 2.0 of the DDI is expressed as an XML Document Type Definition (DTD), whereas version 3.0 will use an XML Schema (XSD) which enables a wider description of document structures, for example, specification of elements and attributes.

The DDI Alliance is in charge of developing the format. In addition to professionals from data archives and universities, it includes American and European organisations which produce statistical and data collecting programmes. Its expert committee met in Edinburgh 22 and 23 May 2005. The third version was discussed at the meetings, but also the developing of applications based on the DDI. Data archives could use them in archiving and researchers in data collection, adaptation and use.

More Information

»DDI Alliance
»XML in 10 Points (W3C)