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Title:The Impact of Documentation on Secondary Data Use
Author(s):Niu, Jinfang
Subject(s):secondary data use
data sharing
Abstract:Organizing, managing information, and providing information services to users have been long traditions in information schools. Numerous researches have been done on the organization and use of books, journals, images, even audio and video resources. Social science raw data, on which many publications and scientific findings are based, are important information resources. But they have received inadequate attention from information schools in the past. This is partly because the secondary use of raw data was not a common practice in many academic fields. Facilitating data sharing has been a growing concern in recent years. In the United States, a law has been passed by the Congress to mandate the Office of Management and Budget to amend Circular A-110 to extend the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to "require Federal awarding agencies to ensure that all data produced under an award will be made available to the public under the FOIA” ( More and more funding agencies require grantees to share their research data to the public. We can expect that in the near future, more and more social science raw data will be available for public access and use. Thus, there needs to be more research about the organization, management and use of social science data. Secondary data use is defined this way: a user uses a data set, and the user is not involved in the production process of that data set. Three basic entities are involved in secondary data use: the data producers, data users, the data itself and associated documentation. Sometimes there is an intermediary between data producers and users. Intermediaries, such as data archives or data libraries, process the data to improve the quality of data and documentations, and disseminate data to users. Documentation is metadata of social science data. Similar to MARC records that help users to search and judge the relevance of books and journals, Dublin Core records help users to search and determine the relevance of Web resources. Documentation provides information necessary to search and judge the relevance of data, more importantly, they help users understand and use the data. The Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) identifies the following as necessary elements of good documentations: cataloging information, such as title, principal investigator, data producer, place and date of production, funding agency; description of how the data were collected and the data sources used; full description of sampling design, frame, and methods as well as sampling error; full variable and value labels, full details of all coding classifications; question text, full description of recoded and derived variables, frequencies of variables, fully documented weights with information on conditions under which they should be used; and details on file types and linkages among files. If available, data collection instruments and related bibliographies should also be provided.
Issue Date:2008-02-28
Genre:Conference Poster
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-03-10

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