Best_FDM: connecting empirical social science research in societal crises


The aim of the Best_FDM project (Better results through interoperability and standardised research data management) is to create structures for exchange in the field of empirical research on the COVID-19 pandemic and to define requirements for empirical studies of possible further coronavirus waves and future crises. The projects seeks to promote networking and interoperability of research projects across methodological boundaries, and thus supports the quality assurance of research data and the change in data culture, even in small ad hoc research projects. The project’s origin is an overview of studies in the social, behavioural, educational and economic sciences that empirically investigate the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been compiled since the end of March 2020 by the office of the German Data Forum (RatSWD), which is run by the WZB as part of another project.

The projects examined cover various disciplines, a range of different methods (quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods) and research designs (self-selected samples, representative surveys, special surveys as part of long-term studies). By now, Best_FDM has created a database with more than 280 entries on the RatSWD website (as of March 2022). It systematically records the studies and projects and makes them searchable by means of a filter guide.

An initial analysis of the collected studies and projects shows that there is a need for improvement in data accessibility, the possibility of interoperability between the different projects and in research data management (incl. possibilities for reusability of the resulting research data). Better networking between the projects and a consistent research data management would allow collected data to be better linked and reused. Standardized items could be derived from the various studies and used for future surveys. Research in the social, behavioural, educational and economic sciences could thus react to social crises with faster and quality-assured study designs.