Making Qualitative Data Fit the "Data Documentation Initiative" or Vice Versa?

Arja Kuula


The Finnish Social Science Data Archive is a newcomer in the area of data archiving for two reasons, firstly: it started its operation only in 1999 and secondly: from the very beginning it has had as an official strategy to enhance the reuse of available qualitative as well as quantitative data. Archiving and reusing of data has been a common and continuously expanding practise in quantitative research since the 1950s and 1960s. Qualitative research has thus far been almost invisible in this respect, except for a few successful cases like Qualidata in Essex, UK and Murray Research Center at Harvard, USA. Questions concerning archiving and reusing of qualitative data are many. Here I will concentrate on a very practical but important issue in making qualitative data reusable, i.e. documentation of data. I highlight some reasons for making appropriate and adequate data documentation and give the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) as an example of documenting social science data. The DDI was meant for quantitative data, but I claim that it can be used and elaborated for the special needs of qualitative data as well. Choosing the same documentation model for qualitative and quantitative data would be one step towards social science data archives which would have both quantitative and qualitative data. This would support their basic task of promoting a sensible use of all research resources.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0003194


qualitative data; metadata; documentation of data; Extensible Markup Language; Data Documentation Initiative

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Copyright (c) 2000 Arja Kuula

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