About the Project
Support for Establishment of National/Regional
Social Sciences Data Archives

About project

SERSCIDA is designed as a strategic project for supporting the cooperation and exchange of knowledge between the EU countries associated within the Council of European Social Sciences Data Archives (CESSDA) and the Western Balkan Countries (WBC) in the field of social science data archiving. The project addresses the issues of potentials of usage of information-communication technologies for the benefits of scientific research and exchange of knowledge as laid down in the call for proposals topic. The project aims to produce tangible results and improve the capacities for exchange of knowledge and data collected through research in social sciences between the European countries and WBC involved.

The four main objectives of SERSCIDA are:

  • to support the establishment of social science data archives in order to increase the level of sharing and preserving data collected through research in WB countries
  • to identify potentials and infrastructures for establishment of social science data archives in WB countries involved
  • to enhance the exchange of knowledge and sharing of data collected through research in social sciences in the WB countries and EU – CESSDA countries.
  • to increase the level of understanding and support for open access policies through involvement of policy and decision makers in WB countries.

Currently, primary data collected through research in social sciences in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia, remain mainly in possession of researchers or research institutions that have conducted specific research projects. Research conducted in the postconflict period in these countries, especially in social science, are valuable for the European scientific community for they address the issues of transitions in societies, historical legacies, post-communist struggles for societal transformations etc. Data collected through such research, although of high value for social scientists (both in these countries and internationally) for any further exploration, remain unavailable. There are no existing or sustainable social science data archives in these countries that would deal with issues of preservation and archiving of those primary data. Research institutions in WB countries are currently faced with the problem of possible loss of valuable research data forever due to the lack of infrastructure and capacities for archiving such data in an adequate manner in line with existing European standards. Today, in Bosnia and Herzegovina for example, there is no institution in charge of archiving data collected through the empirical research in social sciences or providing access to those data to other researchers/research institutions within a similar field of interest. At the same time, many European countries do have specialized institutions – data archives in social sciences – dealing with archiving and preserving data collected through research, as well as providing easier access to data for research and research institutions as needed. Member institutions of CESSDA provide access to more than 25,000 data collections for more than 30,000 researchers in social sciences and humanities within the European Research Area.

Today, researchers in social sciences in WB region are faced with numerous difficulties in conducting their research: retrieving secondary data from statistical offices is limited; data collected through the governmental resources are scarce and questionable; gathering of primary data is difficult and yet, once collected, there are no common data archives where such data could be preserved; most of the data collected through primary research is kept on personal computers/laptops of researchers or research institutions without possibility for those data to be accessed by other researchers and used as secondary data. There is almost no current practice in the way of archiving social science data in the WB countries involved. SERSCIDA will address this particular issue by attempting to support the establishment of data archiving practices based on the tested model from other European countries and using the current best practices of CESSDA institutions.

In its document “Digital Agenda for Europe”2 the European Commission points out the significance of usage of information-communication technologies for the purposes of scientific-research, as well as exchange of knowledge and data through connections and networking between European countries and wider. Since Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia are in the process of EU accession and are confronted with challenges of harmonization of standards with the ones of the EU, as well as exchange of good practices in scientific research, this project will contribute to establishment of long-term international cooperation with existing social science data archives in EU countries that are members of CESSDA.

In the last three years, there have been several initiatives that addressed both the issues of boosting the research capacities in WB countries in the social sciences and setting up the preconditions for development of European social science data archives:

1) Building of research capacities and networking within the Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans – RRPP (www.rrppwesternbalkans.net) which was launched in 2008 by the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC-DEZA). It supports development of research capacities in the area of social sciences and offers a cooperation platform to researchers in the Western Balkans region. The RRPP brings together researchers and research institutions and offers support to research in social sciences through research grants and trainings in research methodology. However, the RRPP does not have the capacity nor does it aim to establish research data collection and preservation infrastructures. SERSCIDA will be an upgrade to the RRPP activities, providing the analytical and operational support to establish social sciences data archives in the WB countries involved. Additional support and exchange of experience between the RRPP and SERSCIDA will be possible considering the fact that the SERSCIDA coordinator and one partner have been involved in the RRPP as members of the
management team – local coordination units in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Thus, any duplication of efforts and activities of these two projects can be avoided from the very beginning and also provide the possibility of synergies between the two.

2) The Preparatory Phase Project for a Major Upgrade of the Council of European Social Science Data Archives Research Infrastructure (CESSDA-PPP) supported under the FP7 (http://www.cessda.org/project/). The PPP enabled CESSDA to reshape its future funding and governance, make strategic plans for the management of intellectual property and ensure that CESSDA remains at the forefront of technical developments in data preservation, management and dissemination. The CESSDA-PPP has provided its members with tools, standards, legal and financial framework, as well as definition of key infrastructural questions each data archive should address. SERSCIDA is a complementary project to
the CESSDA-PPP and a follow-up of the PPP activities in the Balkans insofar as it will build on and extend the PPP exploration of possibilities for CESSDA to gain new members if archives in the WB countries involved are established as its end result. SERSCIDA will be able to use materials, tools, and standards developed within the CESSDA-PPP and adjust them to specific needs of the WB countries involved. Additionally, SERSCIDA will use a differential approach to WB countries (both those involved as well as neighbouring ones) depending on the previous achievements and contacts established within the PPP project. In those WB countries that were involved in the PPP, SERSCIDA will be presented as a continuation and development of PPP activities. While in those WB countries that did not participate in the PPP, SERSCIDA will rework the PPP activities and apply the same methodologies used by the PPP project. The experience of specific CESSDA members from the PPP project will be of benefit for successful realization of the SERSCIDA project.


SERSCIDA addresses the need for improved and open access to and dissemination of primary data collected through research in social sciences while at the same time trying to support reinforcement of the existing national strategies and structures and to contribute to development of new ones. Additionally, it will enable exchange and dissemination of good practices (know-how of members of CESSDA participating in the project), organization and management of joint or common initiatives (initiative for establishment of national/regional social sciences data archives), and will impact the creation of state of the art social science data archiving practice in the WB countries involved. With reference to CESSDA standards, SERSCIDA will aim towards enabling the open access to all information and collected data. Prototype databases as result of SERSCIDA will be based on an open access platform – researchers and other interested stakeholders will be able to access and download data online, free of charge, after signing an end-user contract. The data made available to researchers will consist of quantitative datasets in various possible formats (e.g., SPSS, Stata, SAS, Excel). The prototype systems developed as part of the project should also be able to store and disseminate qualitative data, provided that this does not conflict with the data protection laws of the WB countries involved. Researchers will also have open access to all supplementary materials that could support secondary analyses of data, such as questionnaires, methodology reports, user guides, and so on.

SERSCIDA contributes precisely to the Capacities Work Programme with a variety of activities and results, particularly to the issues of information dissemination, access to scientific results, and the future of scientific publications while taking into account improvement of access by the public. According to the topic addressed, the objectives of this area of the Capacities Work Programme are to improve the initiatives on access to and dissemination of scientific information and to create new initiatives improving the coordination of existing strategies on digital repositories. SERSCIDA addresses these objectives and derives the following measures from its work packages (WP) and tasks assigned in each:

In order to achieve the objectives of SERSCIDA, a professional project management is provided by the staff, services, and management standards of the HRC Sarajevo, a well established academic and research organization and part of the University of Sarajevo which has successfully participated in two FP6 projects. WP1 is dedicated to providing a professional project management. In addition to regular technology enabled communication, three review/progress meetings with all partners will be carried out to ensure a sound overall administration and financial management of all partners of SERSCIDA. The coordinator will regularly collect data on financial expenditures, resource allocation and progress reports from all partners. The project coordinator will establish a proactive regular communication with the responsible officers from the EC to ensure regular updates on progress within the project and its transparent implementation. The ultimate milestone of WP1 is successful realization of the project and its activities recognized by the positive final review by the EC.

Open Access

'Open Access' refers to the practice of granting free Internet access to research publications and data. As all research and innovation builds on earlier achievements, an efficient system for broad dissemination of and access to research publications and raw data can accelerate scientific progress. The OECD Declaration of 2008 states "that open access to, and unrestricted use of data promotes scientific progress and facilitates the training of researchers," as well as maximizing "the value derived from public investments in data collection efforts." SERSCIDA will address the need for improved and open access to and dissemination of primary data collected through research in social sciences while at the same time trying to support reinforcement of the existing national strategies and structures, and to contribute to development of new ones.