Prior to the creation of the Archive in 1967, a small number of data archives already existed in other
countries - the USA, Germany and the Netherlands. Thus from the start the Archive was part of an, albeit
informal, international network. (In fact, one of the - potentially spurious - reasons given for creating the Archive
was to "stop the present flow of survey material to 'banks' in other countries" - Evening Standard, 31 January 1967.)
Since the 1970s the Archive has engaged with a number of international initiatives in order to foster co-operation on
key archival strategies, procedures and technologies; to encourage the exchange of data and technology across national
boundaries; and to promote the acquisition, archiving and distribution of electronic data for research and teaching.
The Archive is a member of CESSDA and of the International
Association for Social Science Information Service and Technology (IASSIST) through which it engages in international
collaborative projects on issues such as data sharing, metadata and social science thesauri.
The Archive is also the UK national member institution of the USA's national social science and historical
data archive, ICPSR in Michigan, as well
as the International Federation of Data Organizations (IFDO).
The Archive's involvement in cross-national research and development projects has made a significant contribution
to new developments in data preservation and dissemination, metadata standards, software for web browsing, data
discovery and data delivery.
Archive visiting fellowship
In 1975 the UKDA inaugurated its Visiting Fellowship scheme. By 1978 there had been nine Fellows
from Canada, the United States, Italy and New Zealand.
In May 1977 Professor Samuel Kernell of the Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota, was
the Survey Archive Visiting Fellow. His research interests lay in public opinion and electoral
behaviour in the USA, on which he had published a number of articles in the American Political Science Review, Public Opinion Quarterly, and
the Journal of Politics.
He spent his time at Essex on a comparative analysis of short-term electoral change in the USA,
Britain, France, West Germany and Japan, using data lodged in the Archive.
UKDA staff have always kept abreast of social science data developments and represented the UKDA at many key
international forums across the world. Equally, the UKDA has seen many visitors from all over the world come to learn
how the UKDA works as a leading centre of expertise in data sharing, preservation, and use. In 2006 the number of such
visits reached an all-time peak of 80.
In June 1976 the directors of the then seven national European data archives, including the Archive, met in
Amsterdam to discuss international data transfers. This led, chiefly at the instigation of Stein Rokkan (the
Norwegian political scientist, who was also influential in convincing Michael Young, the first chair of the
SSRC, about the need for a data archive) to the formation of CESSDA, which above all agreed a protocol for the
administration of data transfers between national organisations - later to become the CESSDA Trans-border Data Access Agreement.
The Council's General Assembly meets annually and now represents 23 national member organisations. An annual CESSDA
Expert Seminar has also taken place since 1987, concentrating on practical information related to data archiving and
aimed at developing the careers of junior and middle-ranking archive staff. A major achievement has been the development
of the current CESSDA Data Portal, replacing its predecessor, the Integrated Data Catalogue. This provides a seamless
interface to datasets from several social science data archives across Europe, building upon the work of a number of
In 2005 the Archive director Kevin Schürer was elected President of CESSDA (the first time the position has been
held by the UK) and in 2006 CESSDA was identified by the European Strategy Forum
on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap process as a major European research infrastructure.
One of the Archive's main international partners is the ICPSR in Michigan, USA - the oldest and largest
social science data archive in the world. The Archive first became affiliated with ICPSR in 1975, when it was
agreed that it would act as a national distribution agent for ICPSR in the UK.
All academic users in UK universities, polytechnics and research institutes, as well as users in central and local government and not-for-profit organisations,
are entitled to obtain ICPSR datasets through the Archive. In recent years regular staff exchanges have taken place between
the Archive and ICPSR, and the director has been a long-time attendee of ICPSR Council meetings as the invited European (CESSDA)
IASSIST is an international organisation of professionals working with information technology and data services to
support research and teaching in the social sciences.
There are 300 IASSIST members, including a number of Archive staff. Members
come from a variety of workplaces, including data archives, statistical agencies, research centres, libraries, academic departments,
government departments, and not-for-profit organisations. An IASSIST conference has been held annually since 1974 and the Archive has long
been an important and well-represented contributor.
Archive staff have been represented in a variety of elected and appointed positions over the years, including
Administrative Committee members, European Regional Secretaries, and chairs of various committees. Melanie Wright
is the current president of IASSIST and Louise Corti was IASSIST conference programme co-chair in 2007. Both Melanie
Wright and Louise Corti are Associate Directors of the Archive.
The Archive as an international source of guidance and expertise
Since the 1970s the Archive has provided guidance to a host of visitors from overseas on issues such as
data archiving, data management and preservation, cataloguing and metadata, and user support. One of the earliest of
these visits was in 1975 from the Director of the Social Science Computing Laboratory at the University of Western Ontario,
Canada, who visited the Archive as part of a European fact-finding tour. This was followed shortly afterwards by a visit from
the Director of the Steinmetzarchief in Amsterdam.
In more recent years visitors have been received from the Human Sciences
Research Council, South Africa, the Chinese Academy of Social Science, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia, Kyrgyzstan,
Singapore and Australia, to name but a few. Most come on fact-finding missions, often related to establishing a new data
archive, or just to learn more about what the Archive does and how it does it.