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About the Qualitative Data Repository

The Qualitative Data Repository (QDR) is a dedicated archive for storing and sharing digital data (and accompanying documentation) generated or collected through qualitative and multi-method research in the social sciences. QDR provides search tools to facilitate the discovery of data, and also serves as a portal to material beyond its own holdings, with links to U.S. and international archives. The repository’s initial emphasis is on political science.

QDR is funded by the National Science Foundation, and hosted by the Center for Qualitative and Multi-Method Inquiry, a unit of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

QDR provides leadership and training in—and works to develop and publicize common standards and practices for—managing, archiving, sharing, reusing, and citing qualitative data. QDR hopes to expand and improve the use of qualitative data in the evaluation of research, in scholarly production, and in teaching.

Qualitative data are used by social scientists to advance a range of analytical, interpretive, and inferential goals. Yet in the United States, traditionally such data have been used only once: social scientists collect them for a particular research purpose, and then discard them. The lack of a data-sharing custom is due in part to an infrastructure gap – the absence of a suitable venue for storing and sharing qualitative data.

QDR hopes to help to fill this gap. First, the repository expands and eases access to qualitative social science data. This access empowers research that otherwise would not be conducted, and promotes teaching and learning about generating, sharing, analyzing, and reusing qualitative data. Further, the repository contributes to making the process and products of qualitative research more transparent. This increased openness facilitates the replication, reproduction, and assessment of empirically based qualitative analysis. Finally, by increasing researcher visibility, the repository induces intellectual exchange, promoting the formation of epistemic communities and serving as a platform for research networks and partnerships.

The goals of encouraging, facilitating, and regularizing the archiving and sharing of data arising from qualitative and multi-method social science research are consistent with the American Political Science Association’s new standards for Data Access and Research Transparency (DA-RT). In addition to the general principles expressed in the Association’s Guide to Professional Ethics in Political Science, tradition-specific guidance has also been developed for the quantitative and qualitative research communities.

We invite you to join us!  If you have some qualitative data, or data arising from a multi-method project, that you would like to share, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss them with you. Also, we are always looking for collaborators to help us develop training and other materials. Please contact us if you’d like to get involved!

Why store your data with us?

QDR seeks to provide users all of the benefits that derive from trustworthy institutionalized data archives. As noted in a Data Preservation Alliance for the Social Sciences (Data-PASS) recommendation to the Center for Open Science (COS) to create a “research data repository” badge, such venues provide data that are:  

  • Usable: content is in well-established machine-actionable digital formats.
  • Discoverable: a publicly available and freely searchable catalog is provided.
  • Meaningful: metadata, documentation and other materials needed to facilitate data re-use are offered.
  • Citable: formal data citation is facilitated by assigning persistent, globally resolvable, machine-actionable identifiers that verifiably link to specific versions of data.
  • Secure: policies and procedural controls are maintained to protect confidentiality and personal privacy as required by law and the ethical standards of the research community.
  • Non-discriminatory: access to content is offered on terms that do not discriminate against persons, groups, or fields of endeavor.
  • Durable: long-term preservation of and access to digital assets is ensured.

Engaging in such practices increases the visibility of data, making them easier to discover, access, use, and cite – thus amplifying their potential impact. It is largely because of these benefits that many funding agencies require that data generated through the research they support be deposited in a formal archive. Sharing data through QDR helps scholars to meet data-management requirements being established by institutions such as the National Science Foundation, and by journals and other publishing venues.

QDR offers a range of guidance and resources to facilitate and encourage the storing and sharing of data, and to help scholars who engage in qualitative and multi-method research to effectively use archived qualitative data. The repository also provides user support services to respond to queries about depositing and downloading data, and periodically updates its web-based FAQ.

QDR offers authenticated online access to data, and is fully searchable. Depositors are able to establish levels of access and user-access controls for their data when these are necessary (for instance, to ensure human subjects requirements are met). And downloading data is simple, making it easy for other scholars to find, use, and cite deposited data. Usage statistics are available on request.

In creating its forms, policies, and agreements, QDR used models drawn from the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), the Data and Research Information Services of the Swiss Foundation for Research in Social Sciences (FORS-DARIS), the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan (ICPSR), the Irish Qualitative Data Archive (IQDA), the Henry A. Murray Research Archive (part of Harvard University's Institute for Quantitative Social Science, IQSS), the Howard W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the UK Data Archive, and the UK Data Service (now including the Economic and Social Data Service [ESDS]).

Under the auspices of EZID at the California Digital Library, QDR assigns Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs, a type of “persistent identifier” or permanent link to a publication or dataset on the internet) to its holdings and guarantees to maintain the link and keep it active. Persistent identifiers are “machine-actionable” and facilitate the harvesting of data references for online citation databases (e.g., the Thomson-Reuters Data Citation Index). Scholars can easily track the impact of their data from citations in publications. Increasingly, journals are requiring persistent identifiers for data citations.