Advancing research data publishing practices for the social sciences: from archive activity to empowering researchers

Authors: Veerle Van den Eynden, Louise Corti

Abstract: Sharing and publishing social science research data have a long history in the UK, through long-standing agreements with government agencies for sharing survey data and the data policy, infrastructure, and data services supported by the Economic and Social Research Council. The UK Data Service and its predecessors developed data management, documentation, and publishing procedures and protocols that stand today as robust templates for data publishing. As the ESRC research data policy requires grant holders to submit their research data to the UK Data Service after a grant ends, setting standards and promoting them has been essential in raising the quality of the resulting research data being published. In the past, received data were all processed, documented, and published for reuse in-house. Recent investments have focused on guiding and training researchers in good data management practices and skills for creating shareable data, as well as a self-publishing repository system, ReShare. ReShare also receives data sets described in published data papers and achieves scientific quality assurance through peer review of submitted data sets before publication. Social science data are reused for research, to inform policy, in teaching and for methods learning. Over a 10 years period, responsive developments in system workflows, access control options, persistent identifiers, templates, and checks, together with targeted guidance for researchers, have helped raise the standard of self-publishing social science data. Lessons learned and developments in shifting publishing social science data from an archivist responsibility to a researcher process are showcased, as inspiration for institutions setting up a data repository.

Citation: Van den Eynden, V. & Corti, L. (2017). Advancing research data publishing practices for the social sciences: from archive activity to empowering researchers. Int J Digit Libr 18: 113. doi:10.1007/s00799-016-0177-3

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