The advantages of data archiving

Collection and storage of data sets in one place with the respect for uniform standardizing criteria is a complex and expensive task, which, however, provides advantages for the whole community of social phenomena researchers. S.E. Fienberg points to the following advantages of data publication:

  • Facilitation of accomplishing the postulate of openness of the research workshop and consequently, implementation of the idea of intersubjective control of the research process.
  • Inspiration for multiplication of analyses and hypothesis with the usage of the collected and already available data.
  • Promoting new researches and allowing for testing new or alternative methods of verification of already set or being set hypotheses.
  • Improving the methods of data collection and measurements construction. Accessible data archive opens the possibility of working out methodological standards for scientific society.
  • Access to the already completed research may contribute to broadening the scope of the analyses made without the necessity to repeat the research. A great number of publications and articles based on such studies as Polish General Social Surveys would not have been prepared if the authors had to collect such data themselves.
  • Last but not least, the Archive is incomparable with any other data source used for educational purposes. It provides both the lecturers and students with data of the highest methodological standard.

o-operation is a sine qua non condition for efficient Archive operation and effective fulfillment of its objectives. It means that the researchers should:

  • Inform on the detected mistakes as well as react to information on the mistakes found in their materials reported to the Archive by the others.
  • Resume the possibility of critical evaluation of their own work being the result of conducting analyses by other researchers on the basis of the same data available in the Archive.
  • Resume the possibility of making discoveries by other researchers on the basis of the already existent data sets.
  • Accept the fact that their own data will be used by other people and in other purposes than assumed by the author.

It often happens that data users find mistakes made by the research authors. These authors should react positively to such people and the results of their work because it allows for intersubjective control of the research process making it possible to refer to the results with respect to the mistakes made by the researcher. On the other hand, it contributes to rationalization of the planning process and its implementation in the future researches – to the advantage of the whole researchers community.

Innovations suggested by data users can also contribute to building new and enriching already existent analytical perspectives.

Data archiving allowing for rendering research procedures and their results to the public enables their constant improvement and control – which is especially important in the case of the studies financed from the public means.

Last but not least, data archiving should become an integral part of the social sciences, and its rendering to the public – the condition for financial grants assignment.

Archive’s main goal is the registration and storage of the deposited data sets and their technical and methodological documentation compliant with the accepted archiving standard. This manual contains the description of the standardizing requirements which enable the user to prepare data and documentation according to the Archive’s requirements.

(An excerpt from Social Data Preparation Manual)