The European Parliament elections are approaching. On 26th May, it is time for 20 seats to be distributed between the Swedish parties. The other EU countries are holding their elections between 23rd and 26th May.
If you’re looking for research data up to and including the latest EU election in 2014, the CESSDA Data Catalogue, which was launched in December, is a good place to start. Apart from electoral data, you can also find e.g. election manifestos from the EU member countries from 1979–2014, European media studies from 1999, 2004, and 2009, and studies of attitudes to Brexit from 2017 and 2018.
If you search for “European parliament” + election, you will get 239 results (23rd April) in the CESSDA Data Catalogue. Among the results you can find data from the Swedish National Election Studies Program, which can be ordered through SND. Some of the larger national research materials are election data from Germany (via Gesis), Finland (via FSD), and Great Britain (via UKDS ). You can also access the Eurobarometer data via the catalogue.
A “one-stop-shop for” data
On the CESSDA website, the data catalogue is described as a “one-stop-shop”. This means that the catalogue harvests metadata about research materials from various national data catalogues in Europe, e.g. the SND catalogue. The purpose is to create a place where researchers can search and gain access, at no cost, to datasets from the social sciences and humanities. At present, the catalogue contains some 19,000 entries from data archives and repositories in ten of CESSDA’s member countries, among them Sweden. According to John Shepherdson, responsible for the development of the catalogue, another five member countries will connect their catalogues to CESSDA’s in the next few months.
The development of the CESSDA Data Catalogue has been substantial, and the initial phase took a great deal of time as a number of members of the organisation had to agree on a common solution. The result of these discussions is that researchers can now find information about data through one source, instead of by having to search as many as ten different catalogues.
“There were lots of opinions, so it took quite a while. When the first discussion was completed, the development of the tool took about six months last year. I think the quick work gained from the long discussions.”
A common metadata model
John Shepherdson is happy with the end result: “it’s nice, clean and easy to use”, even if it needs regular improvements, like any other digital tool. There will be some adjustments made during April and May, in order to further enhance usability. However, the major share of the work regarding the quality of metadata in the CESSDA Data Catalogue is the local responsibility of each national member. In order to increase standardisation, CESSDA have developed a common metadata model (the Core Metadata Model). The model is a downsized version of DDI and uses elements from all of the DDI versions.
“As a tactic we try not to do so much to clean up metadata, it needs to be fixed at the source, that is at the service providers. We report back to the service providers so they can make improvements,” says John Shepherdson.