Part 3
Projects & Landmarks
Social & Cultural Innovation / Landmark


Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives

A large scale, integrated and sustainable platform for data services to the social sciences


The Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) is a distributed Research Infrastructures serving as a large scale, integrated and sustainable platform for data services relevant to the social sciences. It supports high-quality, national and international research and cooperation by bringing together social science data archives across Europe, with the aim of facilitating social, economic and political research, and allowing researchers to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing society today, thus contributing to the production of effective solutions.

In the ESFRI Roadmap since 2006, CESSDA has been listed as success story in the Roadmap 2010. CESSDA became a limited company under Norwegian law (CESSDA AS) in 2013 and a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) in July 2017. Presently 16 countries are Members of the Consortium and one country is a formal Observer. Additionally, social science data archives from nine other European countries are cooperating, taking part to some activities or aiming at membership.


Members of CESSDA nominate a national Service Provider to be responsible for delivering the relevant services. These Service Providers have a primary responsibility to provide data services to their own country, but they are also explicitly funded to provide pan-European activities. The Service Providers are the main resource for CESSDA, and CESSDA is responsible to integrate the work of the Service Providers by establishing a one-stop shop for data location, access, analysis and delivery. Each Service Provider has different overall objectives, but in general they have a responsibility for acquiring data from data creators – government, researchers, commerce, etc. – and preparing those data for long-term access. Service Providers also carry out a curation function, which means that data is always fit for contemporary use, and are available for discovery and re-use. In essence each Service Provider ensures that data are always available for social science research purposes. CESSDA encourages standardisation of data and metadata, data sharing and knowledge mobility across Europe, streamlining the activities of all the Service Providers, and ensuring equality of data use across boundaries. CESSDA plays an active role in the development of standards and, even more importantly, encourages and facilitates the use of metadata standards for documenting and publishing the existing inventories of research data available from national as well as cross-national data resources in Europe.

Put together, the overall ambition is to organise a range of data collections and to coordinate common activities across different national institutions. The institutions will increasingly function as a network in a flexible technical architecture, using standard open protocols and interfaces, designed to contribute to the emerging European and global information commons. The vision for CESSDA is thus to develop a system for data service provision that is open, extensive and evolvable. CESSDA will also attempt to maximises the use of its Service Providers’ data holdings while maintaining the rights of subjects and relevant intellectual property rights.


CESSDA has already an impact on the social sciences and related research communities. CESSDA Data Catalogue provides a single interface to thousands of unique datasets from social science data archives across Europe, thus widening access to data, permitting European comparative research and proving an input into numerous scientific publications. CESSDA also has an impact on its area of work by providing effective leadership and acting as a catalyst for change across its area of interest − data curation in its broadest sense − by allowing transfer of knowledge and tools across the consortium and reducing duplication of certain activities.

All CESSDA’s objectives have at their heart the end-user of the data holdings of the various Service Providers. Every objective ensures that the rights of the data subjects and the responsibilities of the data owners are managed appropriately. CESSDA supports Open Data but only in cases where the rights of the subjects and the data controllers are respected.

legal status
ERIC, 2017
political support
lead country
members countries
The full list of research institutions involved must be found in the website of the RI
Roadmap Entry
Preparation Phase
Implementation/Construction Phase
Operation Start
estimated costs
capital value
117 M€
4 M€
2.7 M€
78 M€
39 M€/year

Bergen, Norway