NSF News

New data infrastructure initiative will accelerate the advancement and impacts of social and behavioral research

Data-intensive scientific research on human behavior and society can help improve community resilience to natural disasters, avoid supply chain disruptions and accurately predict infectious disease outbreaks. However, researchers in many disciplines have faced obstacles like incompatible data standards, missing or error-filled information, and technical difficulties in managing large data sets.

To help address a wide range of challenges and create opportunities, the U.S. National Science Foundation is investing in the creation of a new data platform that will help researchers across the gamut of scientific disciplines access, collect, store and secure vital information. The $38 million commitment will establish the Research Data Ecosystem: A National Resource for Reproducible, Robust, and Transparent Social Science Research in the 21st Century. This NSF initiative will enable transformative research in fields that leverage complex scientific data about human behavior, society and the economy.

"To truly leverage the societal benefits of science, researchers across the U.S. must be able to access and analyze critical data with greater efficiency while simultaneously maintaining rigorous standards for privacy and scientific integrity," said acting NSF Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Kellina Craig-Henderson. "The Research Data Ecosystem project will modernize the management and use of many types of people-centered data, thus accelerating multidisciplinary research focused on serving society and improving the lives of people all over the country."

The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research will oversee the creation of new data archives and software researchers can use to access, organize, analyze and contribute data. The project tackles the urgent need for new modes of access, confidentiality protection, methodology and tools that enable research using a wide variety of data types. Scientists across the U.S. conducting people-centered data-intensive research will have the ability to securely access and contribute to the data archives.

This NSF investment directly supports faculty, staff and graduate students involved in developing the software to access and search the data archives. Training opportunities and support for graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and researchers to effectively build, manage and protect the archives will be provided.

The Research Data Ecosystem project will modernize data collection and management to maximize the scientific value of people-centered data, enabling efficient and innovative multidisciplinary research focused on serving society and improving the lives of people in the U.S.

For more information about NSF's Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure II program, an NSF-wide effort to build the research infrastructure necessary for next-generation science and engineering, visit nsf.gov.