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
- Archiving and Access to Qualitative Data (2018)
The German Data Forum’s editorial team will develop recommendations on improving the archiving infrastructure in qualitative social research and publish a workshop report.
- WG Data Protection and Qualitative Social Research (2013)
The aim of the working group “Data Protection and Qualitative Social Research” under the direction of Prof. Stefan Liebig was to improve secondary use of qualitative data.
Accredited RDCs offering qualitative data
- Research Data Center of the Socio-Economic Panel Study at DIW Berlin (FDZ-SOEP)
- Research Data Center for Business and Organizational Data (FDZ-BO)
- Research Data Centre Education at the German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF)
- Research Data Center Archive for Spoken German at the Institute for the German Language (FDZ-AGD)
- Research Data Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (FDZ-DZHW)
Past RatSWD events and workshops
- RatSWD-Workshop “Archiving and Access to Qualitative Data”
27.-28. April 2018, University of Bremen
There are still gaps in the institutional structure for archiving and sharing qualitative research data in Germany. This interdisciplinary workshop will evaluate past experiences with archiving qualitative data, discuss fundamental problems of archiving and secondary analysis, and identify the requirements to an archiving infrastructure for qualitative research data.
- Panel debate at the Annual Conference of the German Sociological Association (DGS)
7th October 2014, University of Trier
Data Archiving – a challenge for (qualitative) research – Representatives of various methodological disciplines (Stefan Hirschauer, Monika Jungbauer-Gans, Stefan Liebig, Helma Lutz, Jörg Strübing) discussed opportunities and challenges for data archiving on the basis of a resolution published by the DGS sections Biographical Research and Methods of Qualitative Research.
- Forum H – Qualitative Data at the 6|KSWD (February 2014)
20.-21. February 2014, Berlin
A forum headed by Dr. Ingrid Tucci (DIW Berlin) explored the potential and challenges of combined use of qualitative data and quantitative at the 8th Conference for Social and Economic Data (6|KSWD) in February 2014. All presentation slides are available online.
- RatSWD-Workshop “Research infrastructures for qualitative social research”
11.-12. October 2012, Berlin Social Science Center (WZB)
The RatSWD-Workshop focused on advancing research data infrastructures for qualitative social research. The aim was a systematic discussion on how to make qualitative data available for re-use in accordance with data protection and research ethics. All presentation slides are available online.
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]