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SERISS Report Summary

Project ID: 654221
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SERISS (Synergies for Europe's Research Infrastructures in the Social Sciences)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Synergies for Europe’s Research Infrastructures in the Social Sciences (SERISS) aims to equip Europe’s social science data infrastructures to play a major role in addressing the key societal challenges facing Europe today and ensure that national and European policymaking is built on a solid base of the highest quality socio-economic evidence. SERISS involves the three leading European Research Infrastructures in the social sciences – the European Social Survey (ESS ERIC), the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE ERIC) and the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA AS) – with organisations representing the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP), European Values Study (EVS) and the WageIndicator Survey. The cluster project is intended to overcome fragmentation among these infrastructures and foster interoperability, harmonisation and innovation.

SERISS aims to foster the strengths and address the weaknesses of social science RIs in three key ways:
• Addressing key challenges for cross-national data collection: SERISS provides a platform for collaboration in tackling two key challenges facing cross-national data collection – generating comparable, representative samples of the target population and achieving
equivalence of meaning across countries via high-quality translation;
• Breaking down barriers between infrastructures: By developing common technological platforms and creating shared online tools and resources, SERISS aims to facilitate greater harmonisation of data collection, analysis and curation across social science infrastructures;
• Embracing the future of the social sciences: SERISS addresses challenges and opportunities associated with new forms of data; investigates options for moving survey data collection online; and seeks to harness the increasing power of automated text mining for
improved data processing.

Specific project objectives are:
• to better represent the European population, including important target groups for policy makers such as the young unemployed, older persons in institutions and migrants;
• to strengthen cross-national harmonisation of data and methodology across Europe by leveraging recent advances in questionnaire design, translation and coding techniques;
• to exploit the advances in software technology for cost-effective web-based interviewing, more efficient fieldwork management, and to support new ways of collecting data;
• to better connect the world of research-driven social surveys with the world of process-generated administrative data; and
• to ensure that the ethical and data protection concerns of respondents are properly taken into account by creating a consistent and EU-wide framework for all social surveys including new ‘Big Data’.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Highlights from the first 18 months of SERISS:

Outputs which meet a specific need identified by one or more SERISS RIs and improve the quality and efficiency of data collection:
• Work done to evaluate the European Language Social Science Thesaurus (ELLST) managed by CESSDA AS (UKDA) and inform future translation guidelines
• Improvements to SHARE’s Sample Management System and Sample Distributor (SD-SMS) to allow for more efficient management and monitoring of fieldwork
• An international scoping study on barriers to implementing a new electronic fieldwork management and monitoring system (FMMS) on the ESS
• Recruitment in three countries for the CROss-National Online Survey Panel (CRONOS) being piloted under SERISS

Resources developed to coordinate tasks within the survey lifecycle or meet the needs of multiple SERISS RIs, facilitating a more joined up approach to data collection and curation:
• An expert survey of sampling practices across ESS, EVS, GGP and SHARE. The resulting database of European sampling frames enables best practice to be shared
• The first iteration of the SERISS inventory of surveys including the institutionalised population documenting how 100+ surveys treat the institutionalised population. The inventory provides a solid evidence base with which to consider whether/how cross-ESS and SHARE
should include the institutionalized population
• Development of SHARE’s Translation Management Tool (TMT) to support the TRAP-D translation processes used by the ESS and better facilitate the documentation of translation in multilingual countries and shared languages
• A synopsis of policy rules for social surveys collecting biomarkers cross-nationally, based on SHARE’s experience with dried blood spots
• Databases of industries and socio-economic status produced for use with an online socio-economic coding module

Outputs to influence methodology and practice across the social sciences more widely:
• The first SERISSTrain face to face training course on Designing Questionnaires for Cross-cultural Surveys
• The first SERISS Survey Network meeting on representing the population attended by representatives of commercial survey organisations, European agencies and national statistical institutes

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The intended impacts of SERISS include:
• The development of cross-cutting services, systems and standards, leading to economies of scale and a more harmonised approach across the data lifecycle;
• New insights into social science data through collaboration between research infrastructures and engaging in cutting-edge methodological research;
• Increased efficiency and productivity of social science researchers through open access to complementary services for discovering, accessing and reusing data;
• Improved trust in social science data.

Work undertaken under SERISS will contribute to the long-term development and sustainability of the RIs involved. Infrastructures already named on the ESFRI Roadmap as Landmark project (ESS ERIC, SHARE ERIC and CESSDA AS) will be supported to maturity and other infrastructures (EVS, GGP, WageIndicator) will be nurtured. SERISS has facilitated information sharing on infrastructural issues. ESS ERIC has provided information to GGP about its preparatory phase project for example.

There are already some clear examples of impact. Joint work on sampling has led to a significant increase in shared knowledge and potential harmonisation in this area including possible economies of scale achieved by surveys sharing sampling frames. The ESS and GGP in the Netherlands are currently exploring this possibility. The piloting of the first ever cross-national probability-based web panel is already yielding useful insights about the challenges of this innovative survey design and potential solutions to them.

The SERISS collaboration is already proving effective in promoting social science RIs. ESS ERIC and CESSDA AS are participating in the RISCAPE project (GA 730974) which will provide systematic peer-reviewed reports on the position and complementarities of major European RIs in the international landscape. It will cover all scientific domains including social science.

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