European DDI User Conference 2020 Report

Jon Johnson, Co-Chair of EDDI20, the 12th Annual European DDI 2020 User Conference, provided the following summary of the virtual conference held 1-2 December.

EDDI2020 was held virtually from Paris, and was hosted by Sciences Po, Center for Socio-Political Data (CDSP). Going virtual was always going to be a challenge, it meant more meetings and more emails, both for those on the Local Organising Committee and the Program Committee and many thanks to them.

Nearly 250 registered for the three days. Usual attendance at EDDI is around 100, so going virtual had a real impact, not just the numbers we could reach out to, but also to the diversity in terms of countries (32) and organisations (138) many of whom have never had the opportunity to attend.

Nearly a third of sessions were from French organisations, the highest from a host country in the last 10 years, and a fifth each from Germany and the USA. 

Tutorials included an introduction to DDI (utilizing much of the growing material from the DDI Training Group), and two sessions on the candidate specification, DDI-Cross Domain Integration from some of the team who have been developing it.

The presentations reflected the increasing uptake of the DDI Alliance work products and their central role in delivering data across many infrastructures in Europe be they archives, research organisations or in official statistics.

DDI-Codebook is still the workhorse of our standards, and many presentations illustrated how relevant it continues to be, and how the vast pool of content available can be re-purposed and refashioned either through CESSDA, or by migrating into DataVerse, or building new tools on top of existing resources at GESIS.

DDI-Lifecycle was a major area of interest. Only six years since 3.2 was released, questionnaire functionality is now mature and continues to attract interest both in terms of editors, but also its potential to support a new layer of information to support research. Support for longitudinal data was well represented, to document concordance of data across time, linking surveys to admin data and confidentiality. The availability of better tools e.g. Colectica and CESSDA services, and the consequent lowering of barriers was reflected in a number of presentations which were more “researcher uses DDI to solve a problem”, than “data manager persuades researcher this is the best way”.

A session on DDI-CDI and its use in the CoDATA Decadal Programme and other presentations on linked data and XKOS highlighted the new horizons which are opening up. Where there is undocumented data, there is an opportunity to manage it and extend our existing standards to plug that gap! This was illustrated by the session on paradata, which introduced some forthcoming work, and raised the need for a working group in this increasingly important area. 

Presentations and posters are available from Recordings of the sessions are available on the DDI Alliance You Tube channel: 

Sciences Po have generously agreed to host EDDI in 2021. With the vaccines in production, we look forward to see you in Paris 29 November – 1 December 2021.

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