Replicability and Comprehensibility of Social Research and its Technical Implementation
This paper is a contribution to the methodological and technical discussion of social research infrastructure. The main question is how to store and manage data in a way that meets the increasing demand for secondary data analysis in both quantitative and qualitative social science research. The first two sections focus mainly on aspects of data documentation, in particular on the unification of various documentation requirements that have arisen across ongoing projects of the SFB 882. While the aim of documenting quantitative research processes is to ensure replicability, the aim of documenting qualitative projects is to maintain the understandability and informative value of research data. In the third section a virtual research environment (VRE) is presented thatprovides both a generic work platform and a project-specific research platform. The work platform bundles IT resources by bringing together various tools for administration, project management, and time- and location-independent collaboration in a single environment adapted to researchers’ specific work processes. The research component combines data management with further developments in social science methodologies. It provides services for the archiving and reuse of data and enables the infrastructural and methodological coordination of data documentation. We also introduce a documentation scheme for qualitative and quantitative social research within the SFB 882. This scheme considers the specific requirements of research projects within the SFB, such as different methods (e.g. panel analysis, experimental approaches, ethnography, and interview research), project work, and requirements of long-term research.
Keywords: reflexivity, replication, data documentation, informative value, documentation practices, quantitative research, qualitative research, data management, reproducible research