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Documentation Evaluation Model for Social Science Data

Jinfang Niu and Margaret Hedstrom

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


Information technology and data sharing policies have made more and more social science data available for secondary analysis. In secondary data analysis, documentation plays a critical role in transferring knowledge about data from data producers to secondary users. Despite its importance, documentation of social science data has rarely been the focus of existing studies. In this paper, based on an introduction of the concept of documentation and its role in secondary data analysis, the authors proposed the Quality Evaluation Model for Documentation (QEMD) of social science data. In the model, two indicators are used to evaluate the quality of documentation for social science data: sufficiency and ease of use. Then the authors review the sufficiency problems of documentation, identify three factors that affect the sufficiency of documentation: users, data and the ease-of-use of documentation, and formulate hypotheses about how those factors affect the sufficiency of documentation. In future research, a survey instrument will be created based on QEMD and the factors affecting the sufficiency of documentation. The survey instrument will then be applied to the secondary users of social science data. Hypotheses will be tested based on the survey data.

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