Understanding the software and data used in the social sciences: A study for the Economics and Social Research Council

Selina Aragon, Mario Antonioletti, Johanna Walker, Neil P Chue Hong

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Abstract / Description of output

Digital data, tools, and software are constantly evolving across the economic and social sciences community. This has led to changes in the methods used for data collection and analysis, and in the ways that data and software are managed, shared, and sustained for future generations.

The Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC) commissioned this study to map existing data and software mechanisms to identify what software should
be considered "infrastructure" due to its widespread or foundational use and to establish how software is being supported and maintained, in order to determine whether there are any weaknesses in the current software infrastructure.

This study will help harness the information already available to the ESRC. Along with advances in integration and analysis, it aims to:
- expand the capability of researchers to link and integrate datasets using software and workflows, and to generate multilevel models incorporating social, economic, environmental, and physical data;
- improve the usability of models and simulations, allowing policy analysts, in conjunction with social sciences researchers, to plan for the future and devise what-if scenarios;
- encourage the use of increasingly available real-time data streams to improve the responsiveness, precision, and accuracy of simulations and models;
encourage the use of machine learning to support the analysis of very large datasets.

This study was undertaken between October 2021 and December 2022.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages166
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


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