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Data from qualitative social research

Archiving qualitative data and making it available for secondary analysis

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) strives to create excellent conditions for generating and accessing qualitative data for researchers and thus supports the aim of archiving qualitative data and making them available for re-use as long as this is possible without jeopardising the original research objectives. It also acknowledges that the possibility, adequacy, and scientific merit of re-use varies based on the type of material and research method, which requires a nuanced approach. The German Data Forum principally advocates fostering a culture of data sharing in qualitative social research.

Since researchers in qualitative social research are generally actively involved in the production of their data, the issue of data sharing is intertwined with that of intellectual property. It is necessary to establish archiving methods that preserve the value of the data material without compromising data protection.

Regulation on archiving and re-use must not restrict the primary researcher’s field access. So-called third-party research projects should be obligated to present a data management plan when applying for funding. However, the decision about a project’s approval should not be affected by the suitability of its data for re-use.

Recent years have seen the founding, expansion, and accreditation of a growing number of research data centres specialised on archiving and preparing quantitative data. However, opportunities for archiving qualitative material in a long-term and sustainable way after the completion of research projects are scarce. That is why it is a key objective of the German Data Forum to expand the infrastructure for qualitative research data.

Overview of the German Data Forum's activities, resources, and work results on the topic of qualitative data:

Recommendations of the German Data Forum (RatSWD)

  • RatSWD Working Paper 267/2018
    Archivierung und Zugang zu Qualitativen Daten (“Archiving and Accessing Qualitative Data”)
  • RatSWD Output Paper 1 (5)
    Archiving and Re-Use of Data from Qualitative Social Research
  • Press release
    “Fostering Archiving and Re-Use of Qualitative Data” (30.06.2015)
  • Edited volume
    Denis Huschka, Hubert Knoblauch, Claudia Oellers und Heike Solga (Hrsg.) (2013): “Forschungsinfrastrukturen für die qualitative Sozialforschung. Standards und disziplinspezifische Lösungen.” Berlin: Scivero Verlag.
  • Checklist for interview [DE]
    Mandatory information as a basis for a declaration of consent for the use of data in interviews

RatSWD working groups

Past RatSWD events and workshops

Articles in the RatSWD Working Paper Series on qualitative data

  • RatSWD Working Paper #238/2014
    Arbeitsgruppe Datenschutz und qualitative Sozialforschung: “Datenschutzrechtliche Anforderungen bei der Generierung und Archivierung qualitativer Interviewdaten” [German only]