New Wikipedia-style database for social researchers
Researchers at NUI Galway have set up a new Wikipedia-style database for social science questionnaires that can be downloaded by anyone.
The Measurement Instrument Database for the Social Sciences ( midss.ie) is an online tool that allows researchers to access a large bank of previously designed questionnaires in a variety of subjects, which can be reused for other projects.
“Anyone doing social- science research involving surveys for qualitative or quantitative studies must usually design questionnaires and surveys themselves,” explains Dr Paul O’Connor of NUI Galway, project manager of the database.
“We anticipate midss.iebecoming a one-stop shop for different social science questionnaires that other people have developed. At the moment some people will write up papers but they won’t necessarily publish the instruments they used to come up with the data collected. Midss.ieprovides a place where people can go and use other people’s social- science instruments that might be relevant to their work.”
There are 325 questionnaires uploaded on to the site, and range in subjects from breakfast choices to sexual discrimination.
Users can download anything from the site and use it for their own research once it is attributed to the original author. The only condition where one would need permission from the original author to use any instrument on the site is if it is to be used for commercial purposes. However, even then the author may give permission to do so.
“The copyright is still owned by the designers,” says O’Connor. “The site is beneficial for both the ‘downloader’ and the ‘uploader’. Researchers looking for useful instruments can go and get what they need, while uploaders can distribute their instruments and help raise their profile as researchers.”
The site has seen a lot of activity. In November last year it recorded 4,000 views with over 1,500 downloads.