Social Sciences & Humanities Research Data Interest Group Proposal
We are proposing a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Data (SSHRD) Interest Group under the auspices of the Research Data Alliance (RDA), to foster diverse professional exchange on issues particular to data originating from the social sciences and humanities.
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Data cover many disciplines, appear in many data types, deal with multiple objects and levels, and are very distributed – coming from various sources. It could be described as a patchwork quilt, lacking a grand design or focus. On the other hand, it is a way to cover the whole spectrum, to be flexible in collecting data.
There is a huge potential reuse of SSHRD – for researchers, but also for professionals outside universities, for companies, governments, and for citizens.
As a research data community, we are entering the implementation phase of the FAIR principles: we can see first results on Findability – with various catalogues coming available. But for Accessibility, it already complicates as many social data are too sensitive to share directly: access to social sciences research data is not dichotomous: open or closed but requires fine-tuning on making data accessible. For better Interoperability, we need alignment on controlled vocabularies and ontologies, as well as semantic techniques to relate data.
A barrier for Reuse is lack of clarity in data policies– and their implications for researchers: what are conditions and requirements for providing access, and for using the data. For Reuse, new users want information about the quality and provenance of the data: where do they come from, how were they collected and curated, etc.
Social Science & Humanities Research Data Interest Group Focused Initiatives
This new SSH interest group will begin by helping to coordinate communications across the various current RDA groups of interest to our disciplines and to provide a place for our members to share solutions and concerns with others in our fields. These groups include the FAIRSharing and others noted by Braukmann in the “RDA Overview for the Social Sciences”. We will also seek input and coordinate with the external SSH community leaders and organizations such as CESSDA, DDI Alliance, IASSIST, ICPSR, IFDO and WDS. We will be open and inclusive seeking to use this group to connect the various organizations working to promote SSH data sharing. While this new interest group will certainly be a coordinating group, we also aim to produce new RDA Working Groups to help provide solutions to challenges in our SSH domains. Given the complexity of SSHRD, we feel that the initial focus of our interest group should be very focused on defining working groups of immediate need to our communities. We foresee that to implement FAIR in our disciplines we need to engage all stakeholders: funders, producers, service providers, users; and as a new interest group we want to prioritise on three specific areas focused on the Social Science and Humanities research data communities.
- quality of data
find automated ways to investigate and provide information on quality
- data policy
align – and wherever simplify – data policies and their implications for making data available and for using data.
- sensitive data
estimates are that over 40% of the data in our community is too sensitive to make them openly available without any restrictions or measures.
This approach – to engage all relevant parties, and to focus on a limited number of topics – meets the Minimum Viable Ecosystem approach that is used for the EOSC, and has been used in building and expanding platforms, like Apple did (see frame)