A critical aspect of archiving data is compiling a detailed description and contextual material. This is based on structured and standardized (metadata) schema that comprises of information on the content as well as methodical and formal elements of data. A detailed description is vital for data discovery, evaluation, retrieval, and beyond that supporting usability and precise interpretation of the data.
Mandatory descriptive elements for a study are the archive assigned study number -- essential for unique identification, and the depositor determined study title and access category. The access category indicates who and under what conditions the data may be used by a third party.
The study description consists of the bibliographic description and lists the mandatory elements mentioned plus provides additional information on the survey, version, and citation.
Content description summarizes keywords and topics of the survey and provides detailed information on the survey instrument(s) at question or variable level.
Methodological information includes geographic spatial units, universe of analysis, sampling procedure, mode and date of collection, and data collection.
Publications related to, or arising from the dataset, are also recorded.
Any changes made to the data as part of processing are documented in the study description. Likewise, errors or problems that identified at a later time that have not yet been corrected in the current version are also recorded so differences between versions become apparent and comprehensible.
The dataset is recorded in DBK, the GESIS data catalogue. Here it is available for order and can be downloaded in different formats (usually SPSS and STATA) along with accompanying documentation.
- Wolfgang Zenk-Möltgen, Norma Habbel: Der GESIS Datenbestandskatalog und sein Metadatenschema (2.81 MB). Version 1.8, Technical Report 2012/01.
- Franz Bauske: Das Studienbeschreibungsschema des Zentralarchivs, in: ZA-Information 47, November 2000, S. 73-80