Help on Searching Data
The CESSDA Catalogue provides a seamless interface to datasets and variables within a selection of datasets from social science data archives across Europe. Search instructions and tips are provided below.
Not all of the CESSDA archives publish data and/or data descriptions in the data catalogue, and some archives publish only part of their holdings in the CESSDA Catalogue. Each CESSDA archive maintains its own data catalogue, which generally contains information on all available datasets in the archive. To locate data directly from an archive, follow the links from the CESSDA Member Organisations page.
Users who do not have a particular dataset in mind should generally browse the CESSDA Catalogue as well as the individual catalogues of the archives.
CESSDA Catalogue Search Instructions
In the Catalogue, each dataset is described in a catalogue record containing bibliographic and methodological information, abstract, keywords and information on geographical and temporal coverage.
The data may be located in several ways:
- Free Text Search
- Browse by Topic - CESSDA classification
- Browse by Keyword - thesaurus assisted browsing
- Browse by Data Publisher
The CESSDA Catalogue can be viewed in any of nine languages. The default language is dependant on the regional setting of the computer user.
Free Text Search
A free text search can be performed on all areas of the metadata by entering a search term or phrase in the search box at the top left hand side. Where the search terms match a concept in the multi-lingual thesaurus (ELSST), the search will be performed in all languages supported in ELSST, reflected in the drop down list.
A list of all resources containing the search term(s) and their language equivalents will be displayed in the panel on the right hand side. Where the search term has matched a concept in ELSST, related terms will be offered as suggestions to refine or broaden the search. The option will also be offered to narrow the search to one language.
The resources in the portal may be browsed by expanding the nodes on the left hand side (marked by a plus or minus).
Browse by Topic
Datasets are classified at study level by one or more of the two-tier topic classifications. The top levels can be expanded to show the second levels. By selecting a topic, a list of all resources classified with this concept in all supported languages will be displayed in the panel on the right hand side.
Below the list of resources more specific terms will be offered as suggestions to refine the search. The option will also be offered to narrow the search to one language.
Browse by Keyword
The concepts from the multi-lingual thesaurus, ELSST, are displayed in multi-level hierarchies. The initial top level terms can be expanded to show the narrower terms in the hierarchy. Note that not all of the thesaurus concepts are displayed in this hierarchical tree. Only those (either directly or through a narrower term) that will lead to resources being discovered are listed.
By selecting a term a free text search will be performed across all areas of the metadata using that term and all its synonyms in all supported languages.
Resources retrieved from the search will be displayed in the panel on the right hand side. From here the search can be broadened or refined by selecting from the related terms offered or by selecting a specific language.
Alternatively clicking on the "Assigned Keyword Search" displays a list of resources which have had the selected concept in any of the supported languages assigned as a controlled vocabulary keyword.
The top tabs "Study", "Section" and Variable", which function in the free text search or browse by keyword, offer the ability to confine the search to the metadata at study, section (variable groups) or variable level.
Browse by Data Publisher
This facility allows a simple browsing of all datasets in the CESSDA Catalogue from each of the contributing archives.
Search Tips and How to Examine a Resource
If you are looking for specific variables, enter the search term into the search box. You can truncate the search term by using * (for example "materialis*"). Alternatively use the browse by keyword thesaurus assisted browsing option. If you are looking for data on a specific topic or from a specific data publisher then use the browse by topic or browse by data publisher options.
The search results will be displayed in the right hand panel. Click on the resource you wish to examine and a Nesstar WebView window will open displaying the resource. You can then use the WebView interface to examine the resource metadata and depending on access and registration conditions perform analysis online.
Clicking on the blue icon displayed after the resource title in the hit list displays a translation of selected metadata including the topic classifications and thesaurus keywords that have been assigned to that resource.
Please note: study, section and variable links open up in the Nesstar WebView at the appropriate place but only allow access to that specific dataset. To access all datasets of a data publisher click on the link in the far right CESSDA Data Publishers column.
CESSDA Data Portal Publishers
These are listed in the box on the right hand side of the Catalogues. Clicking on one of these will take you to that Archive's home page.