FSD Bulletin

Issue 25 (3/2008)
1.12.2008

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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Quantitative Thesis on Immigration Policy

Päivi Vännilä & Helena Laaksonen

Päivi Österman, political science major from the University of Tampere.

Political science major Päivi Österman from the University of Tampere is currently writing her Master's thesis on foreign exchange students from the viewpoint of immigration policy. She ordered the data for her study from the FSD.

Österman selected immigration policy as her subject because of her interest in international affairs. When she started to search for data relating to immigration policy two years ago, there were not many available. Eventually, she found the suitable data by accident.

Very few people have chosen to write their Master's theses on immigration policy in the University of Tampere. According to Österman, there were only three theses written on the subject when she started her project.

Data archive obtained data for thesis

- I intended to conduct a quantitative study from the beginning. When I made the choice, I knew I had to master the SPSS software. Initially, I ordered only one dataset from the archive, but when I found out about a more recent study which had not even been deposited at the archive at that time, I ordered it as well - and it took only a couple of weeks before I received the data, Päivi Österman says.

In her work Österman compares the Finnish education, employment and immigration policies with the status of foreign exchange students in Finnish universities.

Using archived research data in a thesis affects the research questions: it is impossible to examine a question which has not been charted in the data. On the other hand, it is something that could help to limit the scope of the study. According to Österman, one cannot use all possible research questions, but on the other hand, reusing a dataset eliminates the wildest ideas.

Background information from dataset descriptions

If Päivi Österman had collected the data herself, the results of the study would have been narrower. The study would also have been a qualitative one and based on theme interviews.

According to Österman, archived surveys contain enough background information. However, if more background information is needed, dataset descriptions and original research reports are useful sources.

- Some thesis writers use archived data. On the other hand, many analyse for example politicians' speeches or magazine articles, Österman says.