Data Use Trajectories over Time in the Social Sciences
Despite large public investments in collecting and using research data, there is little information about data use and reuse and the factors that predict use. ICPSR, a domain repository for the social sciences in the United States, has held a longstanding role in promoting data citation and archiving and disseminating social science research data and is poised to provide insight into these questions. Using the administrative data usage records of ICPSR, we estimate overall trajectories of data reuse over time -- following data from when it is first released for public use and over the next six years. We find that, for most data, data use and reuse is highest immediately after release. However, data that are uncurated get very little use even initially. Other factors that predict data use are the number of variables and subject terms related to a data collection. This suggests that data that are broader in scope may get more use. This analysis has implications for archives wishing to make smart investments in acquiring data and for allocating resources for data curation.