Synergies for Europe's Research Infrastructure in the Social Sciences (SERISS)

Europe is facing huge socio-economic challenges: an economic crisis with a young generation in search of jobs, population ageing potentially straining inclusion and innovation in our societies, climate change with its pressure to redesign energy, transport and housing patterns, to name just some of the most urgent 'Grand Challenges'.

SERISS brings together three research infrastructures in the social sciences: the European Social Survey (ESS), the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA). Also involved in SERISS are non-ESFRI research infrastructures: Generations and Gender Programme (GGP), European Values Study (EVS) and the WageIndicator Survey (

The overarching objective of this project is to support the European Union, the European Commission and the Member States to tackle these challenges with a solid base of socio-economic evidence.

The scientific objective of this project is to exploit the synergies among the three infrastructures to their fullest extent and to leverage the synergies to influence the still rather fragmeneted landscape of the smaller infrastructures.

Specific objectives:

  • To better represent the European population, including target groups of policy measures addressing the Grand Challenges, e.g. youth unemployment, older persons in institutions and migrants.
  • To strengthen cross-national harmonisation across Europe by leveraging recent advances in questionnaire design, translation and coding techniques.
  • To exploit the advances in software technology for cost-effective web-based interviewing, more efficient fieldwork management and to support new ways of collecting data.
  • To better connect the world of research-driven social surveys with the world of process-generated administrative data.
  • To ensure that the ethical and data protection concerns of the respondents are properly taken into account by creating a consistent and EU-wide framework for all social surveys, including new 'big data'.

Our contribution

The UK Data Service is participating in the project as part of CESSDA AS. Its involvement builds on two specific areas of expertise with the UK Data Service: thesaurus management and big data support. It is leading Task 3.3 of Work Package 3: 'Maximising equivalence through translation', by conducting a comparative empircal assessment of keywords from the European Languages Social Science Thesaurus (ELSST), and contributing to Work Package 6: 'New forms of data - legal, ethical and quality issues'.

Project co-ordinator: Rory Fitzgerald, ESS ERIC

UK Data Service project lead: Matthew Woollard

UK Data Service project officers: Anne Etheridge, Herve L'Hours, Lorna Balkan

Funder: European Union - Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme

Dates: 1 July 2015 - 30 August 2019

Links: SERISS website, ELSST


European Social Survey European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ESS ERIC), UK

European Research Infrastructure Consortium Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE ERIC), Germany


Koninkluke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW), Netherlands

Stichting Kathokieke Universitet Brabant Universiteit van Tilburg (TiU), Netherlands

Universiteiit van Amsterdam (AvU), Netherlands

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