The financial maintenance of social science data archives: Four case studies of long-term infrastructure work

Authors : Kristin R. Eschenfelder, Kalpana Shankar, Greg Downey

Contributing to the literature on knowledge infrastructure maintenance, this article describes a historical longitudinal analysis of revenue streams employed by four social science data organizations: the Roper Center for Public Opinion, the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the UK Data Archive (UKDA), and the LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg (LIS).

Drawing on archival documentation and interviews, we describe founders’ assumptions about revenue, changes to revenue streams over the long term, practices for developing and maintaining revenue streams, the importance of financial support from host organizations, and how the context of each data organization shaped revenue possibilities.

We extend conversations about knowledge infrastructure revenue streams by showing the types of change that have occurred over time and how it occurs. We provide examples of the types of flexibility needed for data organizations to remain sustainable over 40–60 years of revenue changes.

We distinguish between Type A flexibilities, or development of new products and services, and Type B flexibilities, or continuous smaller adjustments to existing revenue streams. We argue that Type B flexibilities are as important as Type A, although they are easily overlooked. Our results are relevant to knowledge infrastructure managers and stakeholders facing similar revenue challenges.

URL : The financial maintenance of social science data archives: Four case studies of long-term infrastructure work

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.24691


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