Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1996


ESRC Qualitative Data Archival Resource Centre (QUALIDATA)

The QUALIDATA Resource Centre located in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex has now been in existence for almost two years. Its aims are: locating, assessing and documenting qualitative data and arranging for their deposit in suitable public archive repositories; disseminating information about such data; and raising archival consciousness among the social science research community. Ultimately, the Centre aims to implement a policy ensuring that qualitative data produced by future ESRC and other funded projects are offered for archiving. Those applying to ESRC for research grants over the past few months will have noticed the inclusion of questions relating to plans for archiving any qualitative data they produce. Principal investigators must therefore now be extra thoughtful in their plans for 'processing' materials they generate in the course of their research, for example, ensuring that interviews are fully transcribed and that tape recordings are of good sound quality.

A major function of the Centre is to maintain an information database about the extent and availability of qualitative research material in general whether deposited in public repositories or remaining with the researcher. The data we are concerned with is from the broad spectrum of social research., from academic, policy and government, trust and charity funded research and includes in-depth interviews, fieldnotes, anthropological materials, unstructured diaries, observational recordings, audio or video tapes, photographs and so on. With the discipline of education being so broad, there is an abundance of qualitative data produced in the course of research. The Centre has surveyed almost 1500 identifiable ESRC funded qualitative social research projects dating back to 1970, by contacting principal investigators, is tracing the data arising from classic post-war sociological studies and monitors current ESRC projects. The QUALIDATA database will be available via the INTERNET from October, from which researchers will be able to search and obtain descriptions of qualitative research material, its location and accessibility. The WWW Home Page for the Centre containing detailed guidelines for depositing qualitative data, data deposited, issues relating to confidentiality and copyright, information about the Centre and links and references to other qualitative resources and repositories, has the following URL address:

This information is also available in hard copy.


A number of sets of qualitative material have been deposited in repositories around the UK, and there are a further 200 projects for which data will be deposited, pending negotiation with the investigator or on completion of writing up the research. Data deposited includes: