Archiving Qualitative Data: Infrastructure, Acquisition, Documentation, Distribution. Experiences from WISDOM, the Austrian Data Archive

  • Andrea Christine Jesser Universität Wien
Keywords: qualitative data, archiving, data documentation, data acquisition, secondary analysis, establishment of an archive for qualitative data


The debate about archiving and reusing not only quantitative data but also the rich resources generated through qualitative enquiry has reached a broader audience since the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) first launched its qualitative service Qualidata in 1994. Almost seventeen years later, a look at the European situation reveals that very few countries have been able to accomplish the same culture of sharing qualitative research data. Nevertheless, the archiving and sharing of qualitative research data is gaining momentum. An increasing number of countries—including Austria—launched qualitative archives, which to date are at various stages of development. This paper aims at exploring some of the most essential requirements for successfully establishing a national qualitative archive. Technical issues, tools and standards necessary for proper data documentation, archiving and distribution of high quality datasets will be explained, as well as the underlying legal conditions. I will illustrate the separate steps of the archiving process. Data acquisition, data processing and documentation, and the promotion of secondary usage will be discussed against the background of structural conditions, such as archiving policies by research councils, favoring or impeding the development of a culture of data sharing.



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Author Biography

Andrea Christine Jesser, Universität Wien
Andrea SMIOSKI is Qualitative Data and Support Services Manager at the Austrian data archive WISDOM, based in Vienna. Her responsibilities include data acquisition, data processing and user support. She is teaching qualitative research methods at the University of Vienna. In the past she has worked as a researcher in the field of youth research. Her areas of interest are youth culture, transitions in the life course, qualitative research methods, and the reuse and documentation of qualitative data.
Archival and Biographical Research Projects (and Initiatives) in Six European Countries