QUADS logo - link to QUADS home page
extending the reach and impact of qualitative data
ESDS Qualidata logo - link to ESDS Qualidata home page

News & Events

Qualitative Archiving and Data Sharing Scheme (QUADS) Showcase Day

Capturing context for qualitative data
On 3 May 2006 ESDS Qualidata held a workshop as part of the QUADS Demonstrator scheme to address the issue of defining and capturing data context.

Defining how to provide context for raw data to make it more 'usable' is a complex and sometimes contentious topic that been the focus of some heated debates within the qualitative data community. ESDS Qualidata has spent 10 years working in the area of sharing qualitative data, and has done much to establish informal ways of documenting raw data, such as interview texts and field notes. In addition to written materials arising out of the project, interviews with depositors have proved to be one of the most effective ways of capturing context. Contextual needs for 'raw data' depend on the particular intended usage: description; comparative research, restudy or follow-up study; augmenting new data collection; re-analysis or secondary analysis; verification; research design and methodological advancement; or teaching and learning.

Situating data in its context requires both micro and macro level features to be considered including: how the research question was framed; the research application process; project progress; fieldwork situations; analyses, processes and output/publication activities. For example, when undertaking a replication or restudy, detailed information on sampling procedures, fieldwork approaches and question guides is essential.

The day fostered an opportunity for QUADS projects to share experiences from work in progress. The workshop gave some useful input into consensus on mandatory elements for providing necessary context.

ESDS Qualidata is planning three main outcomes arising from this workshop:

  • a series of papers published in the first issue of the new journal Methodological Innovations
  • a minimal agreed set of elements that define context for metadata as it relates to different kinds of data
  • a guide to best practice with advice on capturing context as it relates to different kinds of secondary analysis and data re-use scenarios

Presentations from the day are available from ESDS Qualidata events.

Online Qualitative Data Resources: Best Practice in Metadata Creation and Web Standards
On 15 November 2005 ESDS Qualidata hosted its first workshop as co-ordinators of the Qualitative Archiving and Data Sharing Scheme (QUADS). The event focused on: the fundamentals of presenting qualitative data resources on the web; longer-term sharing and archiving; and promoting standards including building sustainable web sites, harmonising data descriptions, and marking up data content.

Web standards are important - good practice in web design and usability builds on compliance with World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Equally, metadata plays a crucial role in the identification, retrieval, management and long-term storage of digital qualitative data. Consensus is needed to ensure common ways of describing resources, so that resource discovery strategies, for example, can be pooled.

Marking up of data, using universal (eXtended Markup Language(XML)) standards, enables richer and deeper navigation, searching and retrieval at the data content level. Mark-up, at the data level, enables coded textual documents, links from text to audio excerpts, and researcher annotations, to be retained.

Mark-up is also important for longer-term storage and preservation and more complex collaborative research and escience type exploitation.

ESDS Qualidata presented an overview of the merits of metadata for social science and proposed an XML community standard (schema) that is applicable to most qualitative data. Feedback on the schema would be welcomed. To add an applied dimension to the day, four projects, currently creating online resources for qualitative data collections using XML, provided an informal overview of their work.

Presentations from the day are available from the ESDS Qualidata events page.

QUADS Advisory Committee meeting

12 July 2005 MRC London (1pm - 4pm)

Initial QUADS project meeting

12 May 2005 MRC London (1pm - 4pm)

QUADS Advisory Committee meeting

15 September 2005 RSS London (1pm - 4pm)

Web page address: http://quads.esds.ac.uk/news/index.asp
27 June 2017