Dataverse Network Houses Research Online

MEASURE Evaluation is making its data more accessible to others and easier to archive using the Odum Institute Dataverse Network.

Dataverse Screengrab

MEASURE Evaluation is making its data more accessible to others and easier to archive using the Odum Institute Dataverse Network. Managed through the institute, which is based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), the network is an online site that stores data from a variety of university projects. MEASURE Evaluation studies and surveys became live on Dataverse in June 2013, with 20 available as of July 2013.

To protect the privacy of research subjects, Dataverse only archives data that have removed identifying characteristics of the individuals who took part in research studies. To post data on the network, MEASURE Evaluation staff members research the studies they want to share, strip them of identifying indicators, and then upload the data directly to the network.

Irene Handlon of MEASURE Evaluation is overseeing the transition to Dataverse. She said the network is an advantage for several reasons: Dataverse archives and maintains the data for free; once archived, the data will continue to be available even if the MEASURE Evaluation project should end; and users can access data directly through the online archive instead of waiting for a staff member to process a data request.

This public access to the data will make it easier for secondary analyses to be conducted. The archive also includes some user-friendly features, such as allowing users to download data in a default format or to indicate a preferred format through use of a drop-down menu.

Handlon emphasized that data should be multipurpose. If research data are made available after the original research team members have completed their analysis, it allows other researchers to benefit from the existing data instead of having to gather their own and restart the process.

“If you only use data for a single purpose, that could be a lost opportunity,” Handlon said. “A single data set could yield information of value to researchers with possibly very different research interests.”

Requests for MEASURE Evaluation data used in studies often come from officials in the countries where the data were gathered, with some academic requests from U.S. institutions, according to Handlon.

The Dataverse Network Project began at Harvard University to help academic centers store their research indefinitely. In addition to Harvard University and UNC where MEASURE Evaluation is based, several other institutions worldwide use the network.

For more information about MEASURE Evaluation’s research on the Dataverse Network, email measure@unc.edu.

Access MEASURE Evaluation data sets using the Odum Institute Dataverse Network.