The social science environment - changing times, changing names
Established in 1967, the Archive was first named after the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) - the
source of its initial (and ongoing) financial support. Since then, its name has changed no less than five times, each change reflecting the social science
environment at the time. Even the Archive's birth name, the SSRC Data Bank, was not the name first conceived.
Early proposals were for a 'Social and Economic Archive' but Michael Young, then Chairman of the SSRC, thought
the Archive should bear the Council's name to instil confidence
in the Archive's longevity. And according to David Allen, his colleague at the SSRC: "Young disliked the
word 'archive', feeling that it had a dispiritingly musty ring to it". He preferred 'data bank' - a term that
unfortunately acquired somewhat sinister overtones soon after.
In 1972, to increase the Archive's appeal to potential depositors, it became the Survey Archive. 'Data' reappeared in
the Archive's name in 1982, reflecting the broadening range of its data holdings as social science became less
survey-orientated. In the eighties, government antipathy towards the social sciences led to pressure on
the Council to drop 'science' from its name. It became the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in 1984,
forcing the Archive to change its stationery for the second time in only two years.
The next name change followed government calls for stronger links between
academics and the users of their research. The Archive responded, partly by increasing its support for teaching
and learning, and was awarded direct funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in recognition
of this new emphasis. With a broader support base, came a more generic name: 'The Data Archive'.
The latest (but perhaps not last) change to the UK Data Archive in 2000, reflects the increasingly global nature of social science
research and the Archive's strong international focus.
Further information on the social science environment
over the last 40 years.