DTD, XML Schema and Data Exchange Format
A standard and uniform format for richly encoding qualitative research is necessary as it: ensures consistency across datasets; supports the development of common web-based publishing and search tools; and facilitates data interchange and comparison among datasets. It could also enable data and linked products to be imported and exported directly into and out of CAQDAS packages, avoiding the reliance on just a single product, and offering the opportunity to share analytic workings outside the confines of the particular software. An introduction to the uses of XML for searching and sharing qualitative data can be found in the guide, Searching and sharing qualitative data: the uses of XML.
An early limited formal definition of a common XML vocabulary and Document Type Definition (DTD) based on the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) for describing these structures was prepared by ESDS Qualidata. This is available for download as a PDF file, Partial List of TEI elements for use in ESDS Qualidata XML DTD for transcibed interviews and other qualitative research materials.
The ESRC SQUAD award has recently completed an investigation of XML tools to help mark up data based on a version of this XML standard. This schema and related outputs, now integrating both Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) and TEI standards, is available from the SQUAD results web page. ESDS Qualidata welcomes comment and feedback from interested parties.
The UK Data Archive has recently gained a new JISC award to look at data exchange standards and tools, under the Repositories and Preservation Programme. The Data Exchange Tools and Conversion Utilities (DExT) project aims to explore the feasibility of developing data exchange models and data conversion tools for primary research data collected in the course of empirical research. It will develop, refine and test models for data exchange for both survey data and qualitative research data based on eXtensible Markup Language schema and will explore the development of tools for data import and export from some of the most popular social research software packages, for example, SPSS, Stata, XML, Atlas-ti, MaxQDA and Nvivo. The test data selected for the DExT project are from the social sciences, but these formats are typically found across all domains of primary research. The opportunity to pursue this work adds to Essex's strength in the international scene for the systematic preservation and sharing of data. A longer-term aim of this work beyond the project is to build a fully functional and scalable service where data formats can be submitted and seamlessly returned in a chosen, desired format. The work in this proposal aims to lay the foundations upon which such a sustainable service could be built. The project runs from 1 November 2006 until 30 October 2007. ESDS Qualidata is collaborating with a team at the Australian National University (ANU) in Australia in testing an interchange format, and will be consulting with many of the CAQDAS software suppliers.
Presentations relating to this work can be found at:
- Smart Community Tools: Methods and Community Tools for Data Mark-up (SQUAD), Association for Survey Computing Conference: Words instead of Numbers, London, September 2006
- Smart Community Tools: Methods and Community Tools for Data Mark-up (SQUAD), Qualitative Archiving and Data Sharing Scheme (QUADS) Showcase Day, London, September 2006
- Smart Community Tools: Methods and Community Tools for Data Mark-up (SQUAD), Second International Conference on e-Social Science, Manchester, June 2006
- Smart Community Tools: Methods and Community Tools for Data Mark-up (SQUAD), IASSIST, Ann Arbor US, May 2006
- Metadata and Mark-up for Online Resources, London, November 2005
- Smart Qualitative Data, IASSIST/IFDO, Edinburgh May 2005
- DTD for Qualitative Data: Extending the DDI to Mark-up the Content of Non-numeric Data, Madison, US, IASSIST May 2004
- the SQUAD Project web site
- Corti, L. and Barker, E. (2003) 'Edwardians Online: An XML Application for Qualitative Data' ASSIGnation, Vol 20, No 2, January 2003
- Barker, E and Corti, L. (2002) 'Edwardians Online' IASSIST QUARTERLY, Volume 26, 2002