Participating in Research
A number of initiatives are currently emerging that are empirically recording the effects of the corona pandemic and how to combat it. The range of these initiatives is large, including self-selected samples from ad hoc surveys, representative surveys, corona diaries, and the integration in long-term studies. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) presents key information about the individual initiatives on its website, thus creating an overview, and promoting wide participation in the open surveys. Suggestions and notes on further surveys, their content, or first results are very welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of the “Best_FDM” project, the RatSWD supports empirical research on the Corona pandemic with a working group. The aim of the working group is to initiate networking and interoperability of research projects in the social, behavioural, educational and economic sciences across methodological boundaries and thus to support quality assurance of research data and data culture change even in small ad hoc research projects.
What support do researchers need? Recommendations for action and needs
Creation of scientific surveys
In the context of the corona pandemic, scientific surveys form an important data infrastructure for basic research and for application-oriented analyses in the social, behavioural, and economic sciences. With online surveys and availability of external questions, they are able to flexibly address current developments and research needs. Their use of data has also evolved in various ways: secondary use has increased across disciplines, and survey data is increasingly enriched by linking it to data from other sources, e.g. administrative sources. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) continues to accompany and support this dynamic field by publishing recommendations for the sustainable development of the survey landscape [German].
Sustainable Research data management
In order to sustainably secure the numerous new research data in the context of the corona pandemic, and to make them available for further analyses, various precautions and measures must be taken when applying for, planning, and carrying out research projects. The requirements for the content-driven design of data management plans in the individual disciplines and at the research funding institutions have so far been very heterogeneous and especially differ in the expected degree of detail in the proposed plans. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has therefore developed guidelines for sustainable research data management and data management plans in the social, behavioural, and economic sciences [German].
Data Collection with new Information Technology
In addition to classic (online) surveys, there is also an increasing number of projects researching the corona pandemic, using new information technologies, e.g. smartphone apps and electronic diaries for data collection. This allows for data on locations, movements, or individual media usage during the corona pandemic to be recorded in real time. The quality of sensor-based data should be guaranteed, research-ethical and data protection standards should be adhered to, and quality-assuring data management should be developed prior to data collection. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) supports researchers in meeting these challenges with its recent guideline.
Contactless data access via Remote Access
In Germany, formally anonymised microdata from the official statistics of the federal and state governments and social security institutions, which are the central basis of numerous empirical research projects, so far have only been used locally at guest science workstations or via remote execution (often without viewing and browsing data results on the screen). Remote access to individual data makes the research process more flexible and independent of business trips. In the current corona pandemic, remote access to data is crucial, as visiting-scientists are hardly work in research data centres in-person. Models for this already exist at several European statistical offices and German research institutions. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) therefore provides a recommendation on developing and testing a remote access scenario in a pilot project [English Summary].