An increasing number of survey datasets are made available to the research community. Public access to microdata may considerably increase the use and value of data. Experience has demonstrated that the dissemination of well-documented and easily accessible microdata often results in the production of a large and diverse quantity of analytical outputs, at no cost for the primary investigator or survey sponsor. To maximize use of these datasets, proper cataloguing is critical. Locating datasets of interest is often an obstacle to their use, as researchers may not be aware of the existence or characteristics of the data.
The IHSN does not own data and is not mandated to distribute data on behalf of its member or other agencies. But the IHSN does:
- Maintain a central catalog of surveys and censuses with searchable metadata (in collaboration with the World Bank) and, when available, provide links to sites where data can be obtained
- Maintain a catalog of citations that provides an inventory of the analytical output generated using the datasets listed in our central survey catalog (thereby demonstrating the value and importance of data sharing)
- Develop and maintain open-source microdata cataloguing tools and guidelines, to allow data producers and depositors to establish advanced data dissemination systems at a low cost
- Develop and maintain open-source microdata deposit tools to allow data archives to easily manage the acquisition of datasets