Documentation Evaluation Model for Social Science Data

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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 Documentation Evaluation Model(DEM) for social science data. In the model, two indicators are used to evaluate the 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 the model 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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American Society for Information Science and Technology, v. 45, issue1, p. 11