Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication type: Working paper – expertise – study
Title: Data reuse in the social sciences and humanities : project report of the SWITCH Innovation Lab “Repositories & Data Quality”
Authors: Hauf, Nicolai
Fürholz, Andreas
Klaas, Vanessa Christina
Morger, Jennifer
Šimukovič, Elena
Jaekel, Martin
et. al: No
DOI: 10.21256/zhaw-2404
Extent: 32
Issue Date: Mar-2021
Publisher / Ed. Institution: ZHAW Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften
Publisher / Ed. Institution: Winterthur
Language: English
Subjects: Data; Data reuse; Social sciences; Humanities; Survey
Subject (DDC): 000: Generalities and science
Abstract: This report is the result of the SWITCH Innovation Lab “Repositories & Data Quality”, a project that ran from October 2020 until February 2021 as a collaboration between SWITCH and ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Its aim was to complement previous studies on research data management issues (conducted in part as earlier SWITCH Innovation Labs) and to identify relevant data sources for researchers in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) in Switzerland. More particularly, the project focused on the reuse of existing data sets by SSH researchers and the criteria they applied when choosing a suitable data source for their work and research. Some of the steps in this task consisted of finding the locations where valuable data is shared, published and accessed as well as conducting a more specific investigation into data availability, modes of accessibility and aspects related to assessing data quality. For this purpose, the project team designed and carried out an online survey targeted specifically at active SSH researchers in Switzerland. To disseminate the survey questionnaire towards this target audience, mailing lists of several research organizations in these fields were utilized. The survey ran for about 8 weeks until early February 2021 and received responses from 260 participants. Some of the main findings include a generally high number of researchers making use of existing data for their own work. Central data providers such as FORSbase, FSO and the GESIS data archive are the most frequently named sources. Trust in these data sources and sufficient additional materials like documentation and methodologies are key criteria for selecting data for reuse. Some data sources could provide desired data sets but are hardly accessible and reusable for researchers (if at all). This mainly includes administrative data and records of (Swiss) public authorities and offices, as well as historic assets from archives, libraries and museums. Furthermore, qualitative research data like interviews, surveys, questionnaires and observations were often highlighted among valuable yet usually inaccessible data sources. At the same time, the case of qualitative data such as interview recordings and ethnographic fieldnotes illustrate well a certain reusability dilemma. To enable “reusability” of such materials from a legal perspective (i.e. to protect personal identities of research participants), much of sensitive context-related details need to be removed. Yet, it is exactly those details that are necessary to contextualize and reuse these data in a proper way from a qualitative researcher’s point of view. Finally, the list of relevant data sources in the SSH contains a large number of individual studies, data sets and resources. This fact supports the idea to connect and link this data, as repeatedly voiced by survey respondents. This demand presents a particular opportunity for future efforts in this area that directly align with the broad objectives at SWITCH. More specifically, the vision of the SWITCH Research Data Connectome is to interconnect research data from different sources, which contributes to the current development of a knowledge graph. Building on this knowledge base that documents and links metadata to enable a more effective search for and reuse of data, new specialized services could be employed in the future. The results of the SWITCH Innovation Lab “Repositories & Data Quality” project shall help lay the groundwork for such future client-oriented services, by providing more detailed information about the handling and reuse of data in Switzerland.
Further description: The underlying data and additional materials in connection with this publication are available at: The code used for data analysis is available at:
License (according to publishing contract): CC BY 4.0: Attribution 4.0 International
Departement: Finance and Services
President's Office
Organisational Unit: Research and Development Unit
Appears in collections:Publikationen Finanzen & Services

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
2021_Hauf-etal_Data-reuse-SSH_SWITCH-Innovation-Lab.pdf2.07 MBAdobe PDFThumbnail

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.