7.2 Research services

Research services have a role beyond the initial start-up provided by the support services. In this case, the data provider takes part in the actual research to be performed, if required by the analyst. If the analyst comes from another discipline and/or is unfamiliar with the type of data and therefore would like to have it aggregated to a more suitable format, the research services can assist. A deep understanding of the research questions is necessary to aggregate the raw data in the best way without losing relevant information. The work performed by the research services can extend as far as performing the complete analysis, answering specific research questions.

The three levels of research services are:

  • research advice on methodology
  • research involvement/research support
  • complete research performance

These levels are not necessarily distinct but can overlap each other.

Research advice

On this level, advice is provided on data analysis. The advice, based on experience from data collection or previously performed analysis of the dataset, focuses on the best practice to answer the actual research questions and the related hypothesis. That is, the advice does not deal with how to solve a problem (using tools, data handling, data protection and/or data processing), but focuses on what methods should be used to get to the desired results.

Examples of research advice are:

  • determine whether a dataset can be re-used
  • review the scientific approach/method for re-using data
  • review whether a dataset is appropriate for the research questions, hypothesis and indicators.

Research involvement/research support

The second stage of research services is an active involvement in the research to be performed in terms of:

  • support in the identification/selection of data for re-use
  • development of specific tools for:
    • data handling
    • data analysis and evaluation
  • performing parts of the analysis, such as:
    • formulating research questions based on research content
    • formulating a hypothesis based on research questions
    • deriving indicators from hypothesis
    • applying data analysis based on indicators
    • statistical analysis of data

Complete research performance

Finally, the highest level of research services consists of the data provider, or a third party, performing all the research. In this case, complete work packages for research on the datasets are taken over by the research service provider. Work packages can consist of work in one or more of the following fields:

  • selection and provision of data
  • selection and/or development of specific analysis tools
  • complete analysis
  • scientific reporting