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Supporting research data management in qualitative social research

Tools, templates, and guidelines on key ethical, legal, and practical challenges to RDM of qualitative data.

Qualitative research is a major component social science research. It encompasses a great variety of methods (e.g., interviews, observations, and documentary research) often used in combination, and produces complex and information-rich data in a multitude of media and file formats (e.g., texts, images, and audio-visual material). The heterogeneity and complexity of these research materials, which often include sensitive personal data, make preparing, archiving, and sharing of qualitative data especially challenging. It is also a hindrance to the cultural shift within qualitative social research towards more “data sharing”.

This is where our service comes in. Several research data centres (RDCs) with expertise in archiving and making available qualitative research data are developing a portfolio for research data management (RDM) of qualitative research materials in close cooperation with scientific communities. This portfolio will include tools, templates, and guidelines to deal with key ethical, legal, and practical challenges of qualitative research data management (e.g., informed consent, anonymisation as well as documentation and contextualisation). In addition, this RDM portfolio will include more general information and training offerings for qualitative data sharing, but also for more specific types of data. Researchers will be able to use this RDM portfolio (tools, templates, and guidelines) already during the research process. Doing so will improve research data quality and documentation and reduce the friction loss when handing qualitative data over to specialised RDCs.

Five RDCs are involved in the development of the RDM portfolio:

further RDCs are invited to participate. These RDCs will also establish the federated archiving network QualidataNet.

The first RDM materials will be made available at the end of 2023.