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ESRA 2023 Glance Program

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Innovating social research by using existing survey data to build new databases 1

Session Organisers Mr Christof Wolf (GESIS Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences)
Ms Irina Tomescu-Dubrow (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences )
TimeWednesday 19 July, 14:00 - 15:00
Room U6-08

Survey research in the social sciences can look back at more than 80 successful years. During this period survey data have become one of the most important sources of data for social research. Increasingly, these data are available for secondary research and offer great opportunities for combining and cumulating different sources to cover longer time periods and/or different countries. The modern history of many (western) countries can now be based on these data reflecting the development of social differentiation and social structure as well as changing values, attitudes and behaviors.

This session invites presentations that exploit the value of combined data sources to study social change or cross-national comparisons. We also invite presentations dealing with the methodological or practical challenges faced by projects striving to combine survey data for secondary usage, as well as challenges of analyzing combined data sources. These challenges might include questions of finding and accessing data, variability in data quality, the availability of relevant documentation, the identification of “identical” measures across different sources, how to weight respondents' answers in combined data sources, etc.

Keywords: Survey Data Recycling, Cumulation, Linking, Harmonization


Contextual data for social and policy-relevant research: SPLASH Database

Dr Diana López-Falcón (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy) - Presenting Author

The “Social Policy Archive for SHARE” (SPLASH) provides access to contextual data in a user-friendly and interactive environment. The openly accessible data portal entails two substantive sections: Data and Policy.

In the Data Section, users can access a collection of quantitative indicators and statistics developed by national statistical offices and international data providers, as well as research outcomes. A highlight of the Data Section is the provision of contextual datasets that facilitate the analysis of microdata sources such as - but not limited to - the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). In addition, users can access a data map of external data sources such as quantitative and qualitative policy databases.

The Policy Section highlights changes in the social policies for 19 European countries in the fields of family, education, health, migration and retirement. Moreover, this section includes comprehensive information on the supporting legislation and additional background details on the specific policy context. SPLASH thereby substantially enriches the analytical potential of the SHARE data, combining micro-level data on individual heterogeneity with macro-level data on the heterogeneity of the different welfare regimes.

Furthermore, SPLASH is key in the collection of contextual data for the SHARE-COVID19 research project. The context data will allow addressing the cross-national differences in the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cross-national differences in the severity and stringency of the epidemic control actions to measure their non-intended effects on health, economic and social outcome variables.

To investigate these dynamics, we conducted an extensive review of COVID-19 data sources to identify suitable indicators for research using SHARE’s Wave 8 and COVID-19 datasets. For instance, a compilation of public policy measures related to employment and short-time work highlight the aforementioned cross-national differences in all SHARE

CILS4NEPS – A data harmonization project combining the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries (CILS4EU) and the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) in Germany

Dr Jörg Dollmann (Mannheim Center for European Social Research MZES, University of Mannheim; Research Data Center DeZIM.fdz, DeZIM Institute, Berlin ) - Presenting Author
Miss Lena Arnold (Mannheim Center for European Social Research MZES, University of Mannheim; Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim )
Dr Andreas Horr (Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories, Bamberg)

The CILS4NEPS-harmonization project aimed at unlocking additional research potential by combining two large scale German panel data sources: The Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries (CILS4EU) and Starting Cohort 4 of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS SC4) – beyond the possibilities of the individual datasets. Advanced possibilities of such harmonization projects are increasingly recognized in the social sciences and include increased sample sizes, enhanced generalizability of results, improved validity of comparative research, efficient usage of secondary data, and opportunities for collaborative research (Doiron et al. 2021, p.1).
With the CILS4NEPS we address several of these potentials: Regarding sample sizes, the combination of both data sources enriches national analyses in the Germany context by increasing case numbers for certain groups (ethnic or social) as well as for certain events (transition to certain forms of schooling/vocational education). This allows for more differentiated analyses compared to using one dataset alone. As to generalizability, obtaining results from two large scale German studies instead of one increases the confidence in the validity of these results. As to comparative research, CILS4NEPS enables a usage of NEPS SC4 data for international comparisons – for instance, comparing schooling and educational careers of adolescents in Germany with those in England, the Netherlands, or Sweden (the three other countries included in CILS4EU). In our talk, we will address these potentials in further detail. Further, we present the harmonization strategy of the CILS4NEPS project, discussing harmonization routines and documentation, challenges faced during this process and their solutions as well as analytical potential of the harmonized dataset.

A Virtual Educational Observatory for Switzerland

Professor David Schiller (University of Applied Science of the Grisons (FHGR)) - Presenting Author
Ms Rahel Haymoz (University of Applied Science of the Grisons (FHGR))
Mr Marcel Hanselmann (University of Applied Science of the Grisons (FHGR))

The project Virtual Educational Observatory (VEO), funded by the Swiss National Science Fond (SNSF) until the year 2024, aims on connecting data sources on education and learning within Switzerland. Many possible sources for such data exist. Data Services for Social Sciences, Longitudinal Studies, nationwide competency tests for pupils, 26 Cantons responsible for education, one federal statistical office, universities, and research institutes. All of them provide data suitable for research on education and learning. Nevertheless, no real network of data is in place and researchers have a hard time finding the best source for their projects. The VEO-Project aims on reducing this issue by providing a kind of virtual observatory for educational research in Switzerland, providing know how and services for a better overview about availability and possibilities for connecting sources. This may also mean physically linking sources, where possible and useful. But it is not always important to physically link data sets before providing them to researchers. Having a kind of backbone data set and additional data sources “linkage-ready” would already help a lot. Obstacles on the way to a more visible database about data on education and learning can not only be found in a lack of harmonisation. Legal rules are often not clear; access ways are not defined, not documented, and differ among providers; data documentation is not harmonised, not supporting the FAIR principles, and not giving hints on the usefulness of linkage with other sources. Finally, an overall strategy for usage and collecting of research data is missing.
The talk will outline the objectives of the project and highlight some of the obstacles on the way to an interconnected database for educational research in Switzerland, as well as possible solutions.