The primary focus of the department “Data Archive for the Social Sciences” is providing excellent data service for national and international comparative surveys from the fields of social and political science research. These surveys, which must comply with clearly defined methodological and technical requirements, are archived and processed according to internationally recognized standards and made accessible to the scientifically interested public in a user-friendly manner.
Reference studies such as ALLBUS and other surveys for which there is a large demand are combined into 'study collections' accompanied by special services – frequently in cooperation with the primary researchers or experts. For example, variables are harmonized and standardized in order to facilitate comparisons across time or regional units. Three Research Data Centers have been established in cooperation with the departement „Social Monitoring and Social Change“: for the ALLBUS, for selected international survey programmes and for the extensive series of studies in electoral research.
In addition, this department directs the development of software for data processing, archiving, and analysis as well as for the online-search of data and variables (in cooperation with WTS); it is involved in the formation of international standards, participates in national and international research and development projects, and provides access to relevant German study collections to the international research community. The department contributes to European (Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA)) and international data service networks (International Federation of Data Organizations for the Social Sciences (IFDO)), and acts as the national representative of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) in Germany.
User advice is provided on finding relevant data and on data analysis, and researchers are introduced to complex techniques of data analysis in our training seminars.
Substantive and methodological research is continuously carried out in the form of secondary analyses that demonstrate the analytical potential of the archived surveys. Important measurment instruments are tested for their validity and reliability.