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George C. Alter photo

Collaborative Research: Metadata Portal for the Social Sciences

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   George C. Alter, Mary Katherine Vardigan, Vincent L. Hutchings

Metadata Portal for the Social Sciences
This is a pilot project to provide enhanced access to two seminal social science data resources ? the
American National Election Studies (ANES) and General Social Survey (GSS) ? by creating structured,
machine-actionable metadata and a portal populated with new tools for data discovery and analysis. The
project will also analyze the current workflows that produce the ANES and GSS data and make
recommendations for transitioning to metadata-driven processes to streamline data production and guard
against the metadata loss that currently occurs.
A team including representatives from the ANES, GSS, and ICPSR will develop rich metadata in Data
Documentation Initiative (DDI) XML, a well-defined standard for the social sciences. This work will entail
retrofitting all existing documentation, which currently exists in disparate formats, to a uniform XML
structure. A sample of the ANES and GSS documentation will be enriched with detailed information on
provenance, universe, and other contextual information that accumulates across the data lifecycle. This
sample will also include information to facilitate comparison and harmonization. All documentation
created for the project will be freely available.
The Metadata Portal for the Social Sciences will demonstrate DDI-based open-source tools for advanced
searching, dynamic codebooks, question banks, harmonization, and other functions. The portal will also
feature links to bibliographic citations for both surveys and will provide opportunities for researchers and
others to comment and interact. An important aspect of the project will be to re-envision the workflows
currently used to produce the ANES and the GSS and to lay the groundwork for new metadata-driven
workflows to realize a more seamless ?interview to internet? process based on DDI and the Generic
Statistical Business Process Model (GSBPM).

Funding Period: 09/15/2012 to 08/31/2014

Country of Focus: USA

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