The provision of flexible online access to key quantitative data resources and supporting materials plays a prominent role in developing and supporting evidence-based research within the social sciences. Around the world there are a number of well-established disciplinary-based data services, like the UK Data Service and the US Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). Using these two national data repositories as case studies, this chapter focuses upon the development and application of the standards, procedures, techniques, tools and resources required to make the most popular quantitative datasets available on-line to researchers for secondary analysis. Both data services have national remits that brings together expertise across a number of fields that make key national and international socio-economic datasets shareable, usable and sustainable. Data collections includes cross- sectional government surveys, longitudinal studies, time series data banks, administrative data sources and qualitative materials.
This chapter describes how these archives have established services designed to meet the data and information needs of today’s social science researchers and data analysts. Data acquisition and processing, quality assurance procedures; systematic resource discovery systems; value-added support materials; and web-based interfaces for data browsing, exploration and data download are all key features of this service. Using case studies, the chapter explores how data have been used and explores the potential of new and novel forms of data such as linking data sources.