Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Interactive social science research now available on the Web

The Networked Social Science Tools and Resources (NESSTAR) is an infrastructure for data and metadata dissemination via the Internet. It consists of a software collection aiming to provide on-line access to, and exploitation of, a huge amount of data distributed over the Internet.
Interactive social science research now available on the Web
Social and economic data is collected by government departments, research institutes, and commercial companies. Great amounts of this data are available for re-use, either directly from the data creators, or via academic archives and commercial companies.

The aim of the project was to increase the use of such data. In this context, software tools were developed to assist data providers in making their resources widely available, as well as end users in finding and using this data.

Two software applications were created, the end-user interface called NESSTAR Explorer and the NESSTAR Publisher. By utilising the Explorer it is possible to search for and retrieve data, analyze it, or even create bookmarks for most of the actions (search parameters, data sources, tables, etc.). Furthermore, accessing online articles, rerunning analysis and testing personal hypotheses on the same data, while looking at other researchers' work is also feasible. This way the end-user directly interacts with the available information.

The Publisher tool, on the other hand, is used to disseminate the data contributed by the providers after converting them into a Web friendly format. It also handles access to sensitive data and charges for use.

The applications were developed using eXtensible Markup Language (XML) and in conformance with the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) metadata standard. Publicizing the developments of the project leads to a high degree of compatibility with other relevant actions (e.g. electronic libraries). In addition, major data providers were made aware of the project's developments and many of them expressed interest in participating and evaluating the unique features offered by NESSTAR.

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