15. kesäkuuta 2020

FSD Enabling Cross-National Comparative Research

A lot of the work done at FSD is related to our international collaboration, which also includes two significant international survey programmes: International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and European Values Survey (EVS). FSD is involved in the planning and funding of data collection as well as questionnaire translation and processing the data in line with the international requirements. FSD also archives the Finnish data from ISSP, EVS and World Values Survey (WVS). Our German colleagues at GESIS archive the complete international datasets from these programmes.

Comparative data growing in popularity

At FSD, international comparative datasets like ISSP and EVS are among Aila Data Service's most frequently downloaded, and information on several publications utilising data from these programmes are available on Aila. Until now, however, we have only collected information about publications based on the Finnish data, leaving out comparative research done on the complete datasets. This summer, we will go through international publications that have used the international datasets from GESIS with Finnish data included and add their information on Aila Data Service.

In many countries, cross-national comparative research data have become a significant resource for academic research. The growing need for globally discoverable comparative data is also one of the driving factors behind the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) initiative which aims to build common European open science services.

Finland represented in international research

However, collecting comparative international data is rather labour-intensive. Harmonising data collection instruments and processing the data require consideration of the different practices and languages of different countries and cultures. For two decades, FSD has enabled Finnish participation in broad, well-known international survey programmes in collaboration with Finnish social scientists and research organisations.

Involvement in extensive comparative surveys facilitates researching Finnish society and culture in relation to other countries, enabling the measurement of domestic social phenomena to those abroad. Globally known survey programmes like ISSP and EVS are considered trustworthy, thoroughly documented and well planned. The international datasets covering tens of thousands of individual observations are popular, because they offer a limitless number of research designs and statistical approaches.

Thus, the impact of Finnish data reaches far beyond Finnish borders, although the Finnish ISSP and EVS/WVS datasets are also important in domestic social science research. FSD monitors the number of downloads of ISSP, EVS and WVS data from Aila, but these numbers are small compared to the number of downloads of the complete international datasets from GESIS. For example, the complete ISSP datasets with Finnish data included were downloaded approximately 30,000 times in 2016-2019, according to statistics received from GESIS.

Much work to be done

All in all, monumental amounts of research is done using international comparative datasets, and we will most likely never be able to identify all international publications using Finnish ISSP/EVS/WVS data: for instance, ISSP's official list of publications includes more than 9,000 publications, of which a large part utilise Finnish data but a large part also do not. Charting which publications use Finnish data is an arduous task: publication information currently cannot be machine-harvested, and each publication has to be inspected manually.

Thus far we have collected information on approximately 200 publications such as research articles or monographs that utilise Finnish ISSP, EVS or WVS data. In other words, the work is only beginning. Needless to say, however, that Finland's visibility is remarkable on the world map of comparative social science.

Further information:

» International Social Survey Programme publications
» European Values Survey publications
» ISSP datasets on Aila Data Service
» GESIS - Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
» Aila Data Service, publications search

Niko Koski
Information Specialist
firstname.surname[at] tuni.fi

This blog entry is available also in Finnish:
Tietoarkisto mahdollistamassa kansainvälistä vertailevaa tutkimusta.

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