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ESRA 2023 Glance Program

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Best practices in research data lifecycle during pandemic times 1

Session Organisers Ms Irena Vipavc Brvar (ADP - Slovene Social Science Data Archives)
Ms Martina Drascic Capar (CESSDA - Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives)
TimeWednesday 19 July, 09:00 - 10:30
Room U6-08

As researchers, we are well equipped with methodological knowledge on research processes. However, we sometimes lack the time to follow new developments in the field or are not aware of all the tools and services available out there that would improve our research process, make it more transparent, and its outputs more visible and accessible.

This session will expose the research data lifecycle phases and tools that accompany it:
- It starts with a good data management plan to get data of highest quality. One might use tools as CESSDA Data Management Expert Guide, or The Multilingual Corpus of Survey Questionnaires.
- It continues with organising and arranging documentation, and
- follows up with processing, which could be especially challenging when working with cross-national surveys (with eg. Web Panel Sample Service).
- Research institutions sometimes offer storage solutions for collected materials, as well as help in resolving ethical and legal issues (secure access to sensitive data) so researchers could
- publish data in trusted repositories (with Core Trust Seal or Nestor Seal certification) where long-term preservation is possible.
- The process is not finished until data and other research outputs are discoverable through different portals (eg. CESSDA Data Catalogue, SSH Marketplace, OpenAIRE, GoTriple…). Once this is secured, we know the data can be reused, enriching the field.

In the last two years, the pandemic has set some limitations, so this session encourages discussion on challenges of completing the lifecycle and producing quality research in challenging times.

We are inviting papers addressing experience on the topic of best practices in the research data lifecycle from different perspectives: providers of the services, researchers using them, and data stewards helping the process. Papers should focus on a certain phase, describe a use case or highlight more broadly best practices and services used in different countries or areas.

Keywords: Research data lifecycle, research data management, RDM in pandemic times


Managing Large-Scale Panel Surveys during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Successes and failures of the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS)

Dr Roman Auriga (LIfBi - Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories) - Presenting Author
Dr André Pirralha (LIfBi - Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories)

Survey study management is a critical aspect of research. During the research data lifecycle data collection phase, survey study management involves gathering information from various sources, coordinating several stakeholders, recruiting and training survey staff, implementing data collection protocols and fieldwork procedures, and managing the logistics of data collection, such as scheduling and coordinating with participants. While effective study management during data collection has always dealt with unforeseen circumstances, the corona crisis in 2020ff. might be seen as unprecedented, both due to the large impact it had on survey fieldwork and the unpredictability of its temporal extension. These challenges are particularly threatening in the case of longitudinal studies, as panel waves and their instruments are often linked to given time points in a year (e.g., a fixed interval after the start of a school year), fixed ages (especially younger cohorts) or the design of depending competence tests in following years.

In this presentation, we will discuss the study management solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic implemented in the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). The NEPS is a multi-cohort, multi-mode large-scale panel study focusing on competence development and educational decisions over the whole life span. We will share the strategies implemented, including the use of remote data collection methods (e.g. online competence testing) and validation processes, changing study and cohort designs, inventing new questionnaire modules or new formats of interviewer training. We will discuss some unsuccessful changes to study designs, too. Our goal is to share insight and best practices for other researchers and survey practitioners that may have faced similar challenges. By sharing our experiences with the NEPS study, we hope to contribute to the ongoing conversation on how to effectively manage large-scale surveys during times of crisis.

"We need a data steward(?)": reflections on collaboration between researchers and data archive during a survey research

Mr Domingo Scisci (DASSI - Data Archive for Social Science in Italy, University of Milano-Bicocca) - Presenting Author
Ms Giovanna De Santis (Università Politecnica delle Marche)

Building on the experience of the panel survey "Italian Lives - ITA.LI," the paper aims to discuss the role that data archives can play during the survey life-cycle.
A research process, especially in its early stages, faces several challenges. First, it is necessary to set up the proper documents for collecting respondents' consent and privacy protection. Then, it is necessary to set up a proper workflow for preparing data during the fieldwork stage and managing feedback from researchers. Finally, to improve data quality and ensure long-term preservation, it is necessary to start documenting all research activities as early as possible, especially when they deviate from the initial design.
Collaboration with a data archive can make it easier to address these issues by providing support and internationally widespread best practices. The paper will show how the presence of a data steward within the research team can: facilitate data management by providing skills and tools specific to data curation; make the research process more transparent, focusing on detailed documentation of the survey and data; ensure that data are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable, by promoting the use of metadata standards, clarifying ownership rights, and distributing data under a clear license. Critical issues that have emerged in balancing research needs with requirements for long-term preservation will also be highlighted. Lastly, the effect of the pandemic on these activities will be also discussed, as the Covid-19 emergency broke out right during the period of field data collection.

Ensuring well timed publishing of data in case of public emergency

Dr Sonja Bezjak (Slovenian Social Science Data Archives, University of Ljubljana) - Presenting Author
Dr Janez Štebe (Slovenian Social Science Data Archives, University of Ljubljana)

It is important to introduce the importance of timely publication of high-quality research data into the debate on quality research. The challenges of "timeliness" will be illustrated by the case of the creation of the covid-19 social aspects database at the Slovenian Social Science Data Archives (ADP). At ADP, we designed the thematic collection in 2020 at a time of epidemic. One of the strengths of the new collection was the high motivation of researchers to deliver the data and to do so as soon as possible. We encountered several critical moments in the data submission process that prolonged the publication process and thus also obstructed access to the data and faster progress in knowledge. We will discuss what are the benefits and incentives for sharing data in the Covid 19 era and beyond. Especially in the light of reproducibility, avoiding repetition of data collection and faster reaction to events during a pandemic. It is important to plan the data management before starting data collection to avoid the problems that delay the archiving and compromise the quality of data publication. And to work with the data archive where the data will be published, both in the data management planning process and later in the data management process itself. Data management planning, which includes data discovery, planning, organising and documenting, processing, storing, protecting and publishing data, ensures that research results are as openly as possible publicly available and is an important building block for higher quality research outputs, transparency and open science in general.

Responding to Survey Researchers’ Needs in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case-Study From the UK Data Service

Ms Alle Bloom (UK Data Service, University of Manchester) - Presenting Author

It is in the interest of the whole data community that data services ensure they are equipped to handle the needs of users in times of crisis. They have an important role to play at all stages of the research data lifecycle and the COVID-19 pandemic in particular has highlighted the requirement for them to respond dynamically to meet users' needs.

This presentation will outline the response of the UK Data Service training team to the COVID-19 pandemic, exploring how we created resources and events to help equip researchers with the knowledge and skills to access and use survey data in this time. This included collaborating on the CESSDA roadshow events to promote data discovery and good research practice with the CESSDA DMEG, creating guides to help researchers undertaking secondary survey research in pandemic times, and producing an Understanding Society COVID-19 teaching dataset to train future researchers. Particular attention will be paid to the value we found in both local and international collaborations in helping us to provide training to meet changing demand and to adapt quickly to ensure users were supported at many different stages of the research data lifecycle.

By providing this overview, this presentation will aim to highlight some of the ways in which service providers can aid researchers in discovering and utilising survey data in times of crisis, and the importance of collaboration now and in the future.