Archiving qualitative research projects in the sociology of education and youth – Call for proposals

An important challenge for qualitative research on education, childhood and youth is how to build on and aggregate insights from individual studies, and related to this, how to maximize the value of the rich and in-depth sources that are created in the course of doing a qualitative study. Typically, the sources and material generated in qualitative studies – field notes, transcripts, case profiles, coding schema, preliminary analyses, question schedules, and visual and other artefacts – are regarded as being solely for the private use and interpretation of the researcher or research team. There are strong reasons why this is so, including ethical codes and methodological traditions. However, the convergence of developments in digital technology, increasing expectations for data sharing coming from funding bodies and government agencies, and growing interest in the value of archived data for secondary analysis are challenging these views.

Data sharing offers many benefits for qualitative sociological research. It opens up possibilities for transparency in the practices, methods, and outcomes of educational research and has the potential to enhance rigour and impact. Greater access to the records of current qualitative projects provides ‘archives for the future’ and cultivates an historical and historicizing imaginary in relation to sociological research. Revisiting records and data from earlier qualitative research projects not only offers comparative perspectives on particular social phenomena. It also offers an historical perspective on to the methods of researchers and the history of social science practices.

With this in mind, we have partnered with the Australian Data Archive to develop this website. Here, we provide a portal to a new archival repository of qualitative research project data, supported by contextual material and methodological and ethical discussions on issues such as data re-use and recontextualisation.

We are now seeking proposals from sociology of childhood, education and youth researchers interested in archiving data from their qualitative research projects within this new repository.

We can provide support of up to $4000 per project to employ an RA who would prepare and format your documentation for archiving, liaise with the Australian Data Archive to arrange its deposit in the repository and write up a short case study of their experiences for our final report. We are able to provide support in finding a suitable RA and can also provide guidance around setting up your archive including in terms of anonymisation and access conditions.

There are a number of options available which could be considered, including imposing embargo periods on your dataset, or requiring users to apply for your permission before they can obtain access, which we can discuss with you further. To archive your primary data materials, you will need to have obtained consent from your participants. However, if you have not done this, one possibility, which we can discuss with you further, could be to use the funds to develop de-identified summaries of your transcripts and archive those instead.

We welcome proposals for archiving any research projects in the sociology of childhood, education and youth, including doctoral research projects and large ARC-funded projects (and we note that the ARC’s policy since 2007 has been to strongly encourage researchers to deposit data arising from research projects in publicly accessible repositories).

If you are interested, please send a brief email to Dr Kate O’Connor (koconnor@unimelb.edu.au) providing a brief summary of the project, and an outline of the materials you wish to archive by 19 July 2019 [updated from 12 July].

The archival work would need to be completed by 30 September 2019 and we will be in touch to discuss proposals with applicants the week starting 22 July 2019

This project is supported by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC). The ARDC is supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

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