Traditionally, agencies that implement surveys and international sponsors of such activities paid little attention to the documentation, dissemination, and preservation of the survey microdata. This often resulted in survey data and metadata being lost or under-exploited. But both demand for survey microdata from the research community and the attention paid to documenting and sharing microdata have increased. New standards and practices have emerged, often in the academic community. National statistical agencies and other official data producers have modernized legislation and their services to customers, and now show greater regard for the preservation of survey data and related materials, and for the dissemination of microdata.
The IHSN is working in close collaboration with various institutions and data centers specializing in microdata curation to develop or adapt standards, tools, and guidelines for use by national statistical agencies. .
IHSN work in this area includes:
- Contributing to the development of the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) metadata standard, especially the DDI Codebook
- Supporting the development of a free DDI specialized metadata editor to document survey and census data in compliance with the DDI metadata standard
- Supporting the development of free, open-source software and guidelines for the anonymization of microdata
- Producing guidelines on the preservation of digital data and metadata.