Ireland joins European group for sharing social science research and data

4 Nov 2021

Peter Brown, director of the Irish Research Council; Prof Orla Feely, VP for research, innovation and impact at UCD; and Prof John Howard, head of the Irish Social Science Data Archive. Image: Marc O'Sullivan

The move will provide social science researchers in Ireland with access to ‘thousands of important data sets’.

The Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA) at University College Dublin (UCD) has been chosen as the national service provider for Ireland as it joins a European consortium of social science researchers.

Ireland’s membership of the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) means social science researchers in the country will have the opportunity to collaborate with others around Europe and present their work to a wider audience.

The consortium provides large-scale, integrated data services to social sciences researchers. It also promotes the work these researchers do, supporting national and international research cooperation. A key area of focus for CESSDA is the ongoing digital preservation of its data archive.

For the next phase of its development, ISSDA is working towards greater European integration. It will enable broader access to quantitative studies of Irish social issues while also helping Irish researchers to access similar data from across the European Union.

‘Ireland is a leader in high-quality research in the social sciences and it is vitally important that this work is recognised and accessible”

ISSDA will participate in the ongoing European Open Science Cloud project, which aims to integrate, consolidate and connect European e-infrastructures, research communities and initiatives in open science.

In line with CESSDA’s emphasis on digitalisation, ISSDA will implement new, robust repository services to manage Irish research data. These services will be designed to work with the European Open Science Cloud as well as CESSDA’s own data catalogue.

“ISSDA is now poised to expand its services, to integrate its technical systems with those of CESSDA, and facilitate broader engagement of Irish social scientists with the vast universe of European social sciences data,” said Prof John Howard, head of ISSDA.

Howard will step into the role of Ireland’s national coordinator for the project. He thanked ISSDA’s funder, the Irish Research Council (IRC), for its role in “supporting ISSDA in the past and into the future”.

IRC director Peter Brown said that having ISSDA work with the European consortium would solidify Ireland’s research position and provide social science researchers with access to “thousands of important data sets”.

“Ireland is a leader in high-quality research in the social sciences, and in the age of open research, it is vitally important that this work is recognised and accessible not just nationally, but internationally,” he added.

Ron Dekker, director of CESSDA, welcomed Ireland to the group. “By being a part of CESSDA, Ireland’s social science community is joining forces with over 20 European counterparts,” Dekker said.

“It will be able to share its expertise, learn from others and participate in internal and European-funded projects. The CESSDA data catalogue will make sure that Irish quantitative data sets and international comparative studies are findable and reusable for researchers abroad.”

Last week, the IRC announced it was investing €5.3m in research that aims to tackle global and national societal challenges.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic