The German Data Forum (RatSWD) strives to create excellent conditions for generating and accessing qualitative data for researchers and thus supports the aim of archiving qualitative data and making them available for re-use as long as this is possible without jeopardising the original research objectives. It also acknowledges that the possibility, adequacy, and scientific merit of re-use varies based on the type of material and research method, which requires a nuanced approach. The German Data Forum principally advocates fostering a culture of data sharing in qualitative social research.
Since researchers in qualitative social research are generally actively involved in the production of their data, the issue of data sharing is intertwined with that of intellectual property. It is necessary to establish archiving methods that preserve the value of the data material without compromising data protection.
Regulation on archiving and re-use must not restrict the primary researcher’s field access. So-called third-party research projects should be obligated to present a data management plan when applying for funding. However, the decision about a project’s approval should not be affected by the suitability of its data for re-use.
Recent years have seen the founding, expansion, and accreditation of a growing number of research data centres specialised on archiving and preparing quantitative data. However, opportunities for archiving qualitative material in a long-term and sustainable way after the completion of research projects are scarce. That is why it is a key objective of the German Data Forum to expand the infrastructure for qualitative research data.
Overview of the German Data Forum's activities, resources and work results on the topic of qualitative data: