It is a fact that the demand for supporting the organizational management, policies and professional practice via tremendous social science research is increasing rapidly. This is because the effective use of such research data has the power to enhance public policies as well as public services along with the capability to add to the value of public debate. Additionally, the expertise of when and how social science research makes a difference facilitates the researchers to take better decisions.
When it comes to social science research, the data can include statistical sets, video or audio recordings and interview transcripts. Unlike the numeric or quantitative data, qualitative data such as observations or textual analyses is the area of more concern. Such data pose a number of challenges for long-standing preservation and access, including the file and software formats, location of trustworthy copy, origin, ownership and distribution rights, data transformation and coding processes. Furthermore, privacy and confidentiality of data gathered from human topics is also a concern that exists in the form of sheer data volume gathered via powerful simulation tools and computing resources.
In the field of social science research, data ownership and the right of distribution are problematic in cases where the content from a myriad of sources is combined. For example, a researcher may combine one’s own data from the public domain with that of a private source that charges for using their data. It is clear that distinguishing clearly which data is whose is difficult here.
Moreover, the mechanisms of communicating the research are numerous and varied. Following this, the manner in which the research is applied is also complex. For instance, the research may straight away result in the changes in policy and practices, behavioural knowledge, and subtle beliefs and attitudes for social concerns. The problem is that tracking these changes across the world is difficult although is essential in the long run. Some more problems include determining the exact target audience who are likely to be more influenced, knowing the duration taken by the research to show its impact and evaluating the specific contributions of the research to the resultant changes.
When it comes to preserving the research data, there are a few challenges as well. Should the different formats such as text and its translated graph of the same data be preserved for a long time? How the relationship between input and output files should be expressed for intelligibility, especially for the future users.