NordForsk invests millions in Nordic cooperation on statistics

03.02.2016
NordForsk is investing NOK 14 million in a collaborative project between the Nordic statistics bureaus. The statistics bureaus are seeking to establish a Nordic model that will provide better access to metadata for research purposes, thereby expanding and facilitating Nordic register-based research.

The Nordic countries have long traditions of collecting data for statistical purposes, and the registers are viewed by many to represent a Nordic goldmine because their data goes back many decades. Despite the enormous potential of Nordic register research, various obstacles continue to pose limitations.

Potential for Nordic added value

Gunnel Gustafsson 8 web, av T.Heiestad

The collaborative effort was launched in autumn 2015, and will enable the individual Nordic statistics bureaus to coordinate the release of register data to researchers in the other Nordic countries while at the same time developing a joint framework for metadata (data that describes or defines other data).

“Strengthening Nordic register research is a very important topic within Nordic cooperation in the health and welfare sphere, and I’m certain that there is great potential for major Nordic added value in the project. NordForsk is therefore very pleased that the directors general of the national statistics bureaus have decided to establish a new Nordic cooperation model to be tested in selected research projects that will receive joint Nordic data,” says Director of NordForsk, Gunnel Gustafsson.

Closer ties between statistics bureaus

The test period also includes an evaluation phase in which the experiences with the Nordic cooperation model will be reviewed in order to identify advantages, and potential problems, at an early stage.

“In brief, the model consists of a joint application form, a data protection and security agreement between the researchers and the statistics bureaus, and an agreement between the statistics bureaus themselves to set the framework for secure data transfer,” explains project leader Claus-Göran Hjelm of Statistics Sweden.

“Our registers are unique – and an unexploited research infrastructure. We can enhance both the quality and the relevance of the research conducted by sharing the work and creating much larger data sets. Therefore I hope this collaboration will forge closer ties and enable the Nordic countries to share register data on a much greater scale than previously,” concludes Ms Gustafsson.

The initiative is titled NordMAN - Nordic Microdata Access Network and funded by NordForsk and the Nordic statistics bureaus. The project is a part of NordForsk’s Nordic Programme on Health and Welfare.

The interview is previously published in NordForsk Magazine

Text: Tor Martin Nilsen

Photo of Gunnel Gustafsson: Terje Heiestad

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