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German Data Forum Publishes Recommendations on Improving German Surveys

The German Data Forum (Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten, RatSWD) has published recommendations on the sustainable use and future development of the German survey data landscape in the social, behavioural and economic sciences. They address how to better utilize the potential of scientific surveys, create more favourable conditions and secure quality standards. The German Data Forum’s recommendations are targeted at the survey’s principal investigators and project managers, research funding agencies and also science policy makers.

Large, recurring surveys are important research data infrastructures for fundamental research as well as applied analyses in many disciplines of the social, behavioural, and economic sciences. The use of survey data is changing and developing in several ways: secondary use of data has increased across many disciplines; survey data are increasingly used for replication analyses, and, more recently, survey data are being enriched by linking them with data from other sources, for example, administrative data. Moreover, surveys are becoming more open to questions brought to them by (potential) external users.
The German Data Forum supports these development and puts forward recommendations to foster secondary use, facilitate replication studies and data linkage, and further open existing surveys to questions brought to them from external users.

The recommendations deal with the challenges of existing surveys with regard to funding, planning and sustainability, data protection, access to official register information and employee development. They address desiderata which have been highlighted in a survey of the principal investigators of various studies conducted by the German Data Forum.
Adding to this are recommendations aimed at securing quality. They address issues such as dealing with selection biases in surveys with low response rates and look at the German survey institute landscape and survey methods research.

The German Data Forum developed an overview of large, recurring surveys in Germany in preparation of the recommendations. A survey of all the identified projects resulted in clear fields of action with regard to securing high quality standards and the surveys’ significance. This overview document and the survey profiles are attached to the recommendations. They are a testament to Germany’s diverse survey landscape.

The publication is available in print and online via the German Data Forum’s business office (office@ratswd.de) and website (www.ratswd.de/en/publications), respectively.