The aim of the European DDI (EDDI) conference is to be a place where the social science data management community can meet, exchange ideas, report progress and build DDI capabilities and capacity across Europe. Moving around different cities in Europe has been an integral part of that process. Since the beginning, the tutorials, long breaks between sessions, and meetups in the evening have all been part of encouraging a friendly and conducive atmosphere. This was very much challenged by COVID and moving everything online. SciencesPo, who had great plans for an in-person conference in 2020 graciously offered to host it online, stuck with us for 2021 and ably carried off the hybrid event in 2022 in Paris.
Up until 2020, there had been over 500 people from 170 organizations that had come to an EDDI conference. Going online does seem to have stimulated more interest, of the three recent conferences hosted in Paris there were 274 new participants and 122 new organizations, whilst still retaining the participation of 40 percent of those who had previously attended an in-person conference. Paris 2022 had 120 participants, 50 new to EDDI and 19 of the 40 presentations were from first time attendees.
Whatever the advantages of online, the pleasure of actually meeting in person, and having unprompted discussions can’t easily be reproduced, especially for those new to EDDI.
The conference was preceded by a CODATA / DDI Alliance Introduction to DDI, online event, with presentations on DDI-Codebook, DDI-Lifecycle, DDI-CDI and demonstrations of various tools that support DDI. The presentations are available online at https://codata.org/initiatives/data-skills/ddi-training-webinars/europea....
The conference was opened by the new CESSDA Director, Bonnie Wolff-Boenisch, with a keynote entitled “The European Research Area - So Far and Yet So Close”, which drew on the development of a European vision for cooperation and her experiences at both Science Europe and the European Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) to illustrate the way in which the incorporation of infrastructure and collaboration is a critical part of delivering the European Research Area’s policy objectives. She concluded by saying that “without metadata experts and data infrastructures, there will not be a data highway for research and innovation”.
NESSTAR has been an important part of the DDI Codebook landscape since its launch in 2000, but with the decision to stop support in 2015, many organizations have been looking at the alternatives available. This was the subject of two sessions and a number of related presentations, that showcased a range of different solutions, including using Dataverse as the backend repository and using the add-on developed at CDSP in 2018, to access variable level information (https://www.odesi.ca), migrating to NADA (INED, Tulsa), using MTNA Rich Data Services (Statistics Canada) and Colectica (Sikt), through to development of a completely new repository at Progedo and SSJDA. Other presentations from CDSP looked at what workflows might be needed to support these more heterogeneous environments, and providing a DDI-Codebook feed from Dataverse. The World Bank also presented the latest upgrade to their NADA software.
DDI-Lifecycle has steadily increased its visibility at EDDI. A number of different groups are providing harmonizable / concorded data to the research community and the presentations from CDSP, NACDA and FSD showed a range of different approaches to creating that content both within a study, but increasingly across studies using Colectica. Adoption of DDI-Lifecycle at CESSDA was the spur for a number of presentations on how the many archives are managing to provide content for the CESSDA Data Catalogue, and how CESSDA interacts with other European infrastructures, including ECRIN and EOSC. There were a number of presentations from INSEE, including a keynote from Franck Cotton on how over a 10-year period they have developed a system that can specify, field and manage the data from their business surveys, natively in DDI-Lifecycle. New software supporting extraction of DDI-Lifecycle from datasets by Colectica, GESIS and CLOSER were also showcased. Presentations from CLOSER and INSEE explored the challenges of creating questionnaires in DDI-Lifecycle, which was also the subject of a one-day workshop preceding the conference which proposed the establishment of a DDI Alliance questionnaire working group.
SciencesPo were able to offer a diversity scholarship, and this led to two very interesting talks from researchers on their perspective on DDI.
There were a number of presentations focusing specifically on interoperability, with other standards, however, in recent years many presentations have been related to DDI being used with/or alongside other standards. The DDI Alliance Technical Committee, along with the DDI-CDI Working Group held a post-conference workshop on implementation languages for DDI, looking at ways in which DDI can be represented in other ways than just XML as has been the case thus far.
The Program Committee would also like to place on record our thanks to CDSP at SciencesPo for hosting what was a memorable in-person conference.
EDDI 2023 will be hosted by the Slovenian Social Science Data Archives at the University of Ljubljana.
Presentations from the Conference are available from https://zenodo.org/communities/eddi2022
Jon Johnson & Mari Kleemola