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Audit report on access mechanisms and availability of official statistics across the European Research Area, with recommendation on role of the CESSDA Research Infrastructure in facilitating greater access.

Audit report on access mechanisms and availability of official statistics across the European Research Area, with recommendation on role of the CESSDA Research Infrastructure in facilitating greater access.

Tubaro, Paola, Silberman, Roxane, Cros, Marie, Cornilleau, Anne, Kvalheim, Vigdis, Kiberg, Dag and Farago, Peter (2010) Audit report on access mechanisms and availability of official statistics across the European Research Area, with recommendation on role of the CESSDA Research Infrastructure in facilitating greater access. Project Report. Council of European Social Science Data Archives. (doi:FP7-212214)

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The CESSDA-PPP endeavours to upgrade CESSDA into a European Research Infrastructure Consortium for access to social science data, able to provide pathways for access to all or
most of the sources of data that researchers need. This report focuses on government microdata, which constitute today a substantial part of the data needed for research and
teaching in the social sciences. The broad category of government data includes surveys produced by National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) as well as administrative data and combined survey-administrative datasets. Today, social scientists’ demand for governmental data has
surged, with rising interest in particular for administrative data and for once peripheral fields such as health and the environment.
At present, access to these data is uneven across Europe and not systematically mediated by CESSDA members, while in recent years new challenges have arisen: improved statistical tools enable analyses based on detailed microdata, technological progress facilitates increasing use of administrative data bases and combined datasets, whereas at the same time privacy protection concerns are growing. Long neglected, researchers’ needs are progressively gaining recognition in the legal framework, and governmental actors (including, but not limited to, NSIs) are setting up new forms of access both for anonymised and for confidential data. Driven by the European integration process, a parallel infrastructure led by NSIs and Eurostat for access to government data is increasingly likely to emerge, thereby challenging the role of CESSDA and undermining the very idea of a single, comprehensive European infrastructure for social science data.
This report aims to map current access arrangements throughout Europe, considering both the status quo and new or expected developments that may require attention in the years to come. It takes into account modes of access to both anonymised and confidential data, with special
emphasis on the role of CESSDA member organisations as intermediaries. It considers both the national level (NSIs and country-based institutions) and the European level (Eurostat data). It results from the work of Workpackage 10 in the CESSDA-PPP, which has also involved efforts to make first steps in order to propose solutions to existing problems, especially by starting talks with governmental actors. A milestone of this task has been the organisation of a joint Eurostat/ONS/CESSDA workshop on Microdata access in 2008.
The main results of the audit report can be summarised as follows:
• Overall, the legislative framework has evolved in a sense that is more favourable for research than in the past, and conditions for access have improved in many countries,
despite remaining barriers.
• Many NSIs have recently been very pro-active in setting up new facilities for access, based on advanced technological solutions in order to protect confidentiality
(particularly safe data laboratories, both on-site and remote through the internet).
• CESSDA organisations are currently very heterogeneous: while some members are substantially involved in the dissemination of government data and have accumulated
significant experience in this area, others do so to a very limited extent, if at all.
• These developments reinforce fears that governmental data might in future be offered by a parallel, Eurostat and NSI-led infrastructure, outside of CESSDA.
• However, some CESSDA members are setting the example in establishing enhanced and renewed forms of cooperation with government actors (also including forms of access to confidential microdata).
• The output of the Eurostat/ONS/CESSDA workshop of December 2008 is also highly encouraging, suggesting a possible extension of existing cooperation schemes to
CESSDA as a whole.
The main resulting recommendations can be summarised as follows:
Regarding CESSDA members:
• Significant involvement in government microdata dissemination should be a condition for membership of the cessda-ERIC;
• Thus, efforts to reach agreements with governmental data producers should be required of CESSDA organisations that do not currently offer any mediation services for government data;
• To achieve this, CESSDA should set up a permanent sub-committee, or expert group in charge of providing assistance to members that need to prepare a first agreement
with governmental statistics in their home countries.
On the relationships of CESSDA towards NSIs and Eurostat:
• The cessda-ERIC should explicitly give a place in its statutes to Eurostat and possibly to other NSIs that are willing to cooperate.
• To do so, CESSDA should make an informed choice between different possible modes of operation.
• To inform its decision, CESSDA should in the short run set up a team or expert group to explore more closely the possible options.
• In addition, CESSDA should immediately start negotiations with Eurostat and NSIs on chapters where rapid progress is possible.
• CESSDA should promote the transformation of the Eurostat/ONS/CESSDA event of 2008 into a permanent forum (possibly taking place every two years).
On the relationships of CESSDA with the research community:
• Representatives of researchers should be members of the Scientific Council of the ERIC, and possibly of the sub-committee or expert group that is in charge of
providing advice on partnerships with governmental statistics.
To achieve these goals, follow-up work has already been undertaken. Eurostat’s willingness to continue and enhance the experience of the 2008 workshop facilitates progress in some areas. In particular, R. Silberman was invited to a Eurostat seminar on remote access in June to discuss possible forms of future collaboration, and the currently open FP7 call (30 July 2009) on Data Archives and remote access to official statistics is an opportunity for possible
joint work by CESSDA and some NSIs with support from Eurostat.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Additional Information: [1] CESSDA is an umbrella organisation for social science data archives across Europe [2] CESSDA PPP is the Preparatory Phase Project for a Major Upgrade of the Council of European Social Science Data Archives [3] This report appears in the WP10 tendered report on "Secure Remote Access system for an upgraded CESSDA RI" [4] Work Package 10 (WP10) is entitled Data collection, dissemination and access issues
Uncontrolled Keywords: official statistical data, microdata, data access, data archives, social science, research, national statistical institutes
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Networks and Urban Systems Centre (NUSC) > Centre for Business Network Analysis (CBNA)
Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:13

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