FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

General Principles of Data Use

How much does using the data cost?

The FSD's basic services are free of charge: translating quantitative data into English, delivering data in digital format via the Aila Data Portal, information service and archiving data. Using the data is also free of charge but please note that archived data can in most cases only be used for research, teaching and study connected to universities, universities of applied sciences or research institutes. More information.

Who can download data?

The FSD releases archived data for scientific research, teaching and learning connected to universities, universities of applied sciences or research institutes, for example, to researchers, teachers and students. Some data are available for research only while a small number of datasets is openly available for all users, even without registration.

Can students download data?

Yes. The FSD delivers data for master's theses and term papers. The majority of datasets in Aila are available for study purposes. Datasets that are "available for all users without registration" and "available for research, teaching and study" in the Data Catalogue can be downloaded for study purposes. See also Downloading and using data.

How do I gain access to the data?

You can download the dataset you need in our Aila Data Portal according to the terms and conditions set for the dataset. Students and members of staff of Finnish universities, polytechnics and research institutes can register for the data service using the username and password issued to them by their home organisation. Other users are required to complete a short registration form to get a user account, that is, to apply for an Aila username and password. The Terms and Conditions for the Use of the Aila Data Service apply to all users. See also Downloading and using data.

Can I order data if I do not speak Finnish?

Yes, we translate quantitative data into English, on request and free of charge, for researchers who do not speak Finnish. We do not translate qualitative datasets and they are generally available only in the original language, that is, mainly in Finnish. Translation of quantitative data may take a few weeks, but we will provide an estimate of the time required. Many quantitative datasets have already been translated into English. The translated datasets have a codebook which you can access on the English study description page of the dataset. Study descriptions can be browsed in the Data Catalogue or searched in the search interface.

How quickly will I receive the data?

Registered Aila users can download Finnish datasets and datasets already translated into English immediately. If permission from the depositor is required, or the data must be translated into English first, it will take longer before the user can download the files.

How long can I use the data?

The time allotted for the use of the data is dependent on the purpose of use, which the user will state before downloading the data. In accordance with our terms and conditions, the data must be disposed of after they are no longer needed for the purpose stated. If you want to use the same data for a new purpose (for example, a new research project), you need to submit a new application.

Can I let others use the dataset I downloaded?

You cannot. The access granted to a dataset is always personal and the user who downloaded the dataset is responsible for the use of the data. Each person who wishes to use the data must personally register as an FSD user and accept both the Terms and Conditions for the Use of the Aila Data Service and the General Terms and Conditions for Data Use. After this they can download the dataset for their own use.

Can the FSD help me to obtain data from other archives?

Primarily, you should directly contact the archive responsible for archiving the data you need. The FSD does not archive cross-national data, like ISSP or Eurobarometers. We can, however, provide guidance to Finnish researchers and students as well as people working in Finnish universities on how to acquire data from other data archives.

Registration and Download

I received a username and a password, but I cannot log in! An error message saying “Page cannot be displayed” appears. What to do?

Try logging in by using another web browser (e.g. Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 11 or Microsoft Edge).

If you cannot log in by using another browser, the problem may occur due to the limitations set for your network. Try logging in from another network (e.g. at your home if the problem occurred at your workplace).

Can I download several datasets simultaneously?

You can only download one dataset at a time in Aila, because the conditions set for each dataset vary. However, you can download more than one dataset consecutively. See also Downloading and using data.

I downloaded a dataset from Aila, but now I cannot find it on my computer. Can I download the dataset again?

Please check first whether the file can be found in the default download folder on your computer. For example, in Windows, files downloaded from the Internet are saved in the Downloads folder by default. You can change the location of the default download folder in your browser settings (e.g. in Internet Explorer, open the browser and select Tools [cog icon] -> View Downloads -> Options. Here you can choose the default download location).

Which formats are the data available in?

By default, we deliver quantitative datasets in SPSS Portable file format. With certain restrictions, quantitative datasets can also be delivered in other formats by request sent to our User Services (see also the list of available formats). The majority of archived qualitative datasets are in document file formats (RTF, TXT, PDF) and generally available in Finnish only. Datasets are delivered in compressed ZIP files.

My access application to a dataset available only by permission of the depositor has been approved. However, when I try to download it from Aila, I receive a notification saying that the download period has expired. Is there a way to extend the download period?

Yes there is, if you intend to use the dataset for the purpose you stated in the application, i.e. if the purpose of use has not changed. Data download period and permission granted for the use of a dataset are tied to the purpose of use. Download period lasts two weeks. In order to extend the download period, contact our User Services. If the purpose of use has changed, you must submit a new access application.

In which cases must I submit a new access application for a dataset that I have already downloaded? What changes in the purpose of use necessitate a new application?

When the purpose of use distinctly changes, a new application must be submitted. For example, if you originally downloaded the dataset for a BA thesis and you would like to use it for an MA thesis you must submit a new application. Similarly, if you downloaded the data for teaching and would now like to use it for research, or if you want to use the same data in different research programmes or courses, you are required to submit a new application.

If you continue to use the dataset for the same thesis you originally downloaded it for, even if you amend your research question to some extent, there is no need for a new application.

What is a codebook?

Codebooks produced by the archive are PDF documents containing a general description of the study and methodologies used, variable-level description, and frequencies. Codebooks in English do not generally include the questionnaire, unless the original questionnaire was in English or had an English version.

What does 'under embargo' mean?

It means that the original creator(s) of the data restrict access to data or part of data, often because they have not yet published their own research based on it. If there is an embargo, the study description often gives information about the extent and duration of the embargo.

Opening Data Files

I received the data in a ZIP file. What is it and how do I open it?

Datasets downloaded from Aila are compressed ZIP files. Save the ZIP file to your hard disk (for instance, C: or D: drive). After saving, the files need to be uncompressed/extracted on your computer's storage media. For instance, Windows and Mac OS can display and uncompress ZIP files. Alternatively, free software tools (e.g. 7-zip, WinZip, iZip) can be used to extract them. If you download a dataset from Aila on a shared computer, you must make sure that no copies of the dataset remain in the computer's memory (for example, in the Downloads folder). See instructions on opening other kinds of files below.

How do I open an SPSS portable file?

In order to display a portable file in SPSS, choose File -> Open -> Data in the drop-down menu, change the file type to SPSS portable (*.por), select the file name and click on Open. If Scandic characters å, ä and ö are not properly displayed (the problem occurs with SPSS 21 in particular): Choose from the drop-down menu Edit -> Options -> General -> Character encoding for data and syntax -> Local. Open the file as instructed above. See instructions on opening SPSS Portable file in R.

Why am I not able to open questionnaires and codebooks on the Internet?

Questionnaires and codebooks which are in PDF format usually open in a browser window or a separate program without any problems. If questionnaires and codebooks do not open directly in your browser window, click on their link with the secondary mouse button, choose Save Target As, save the file and open it in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Citation of the Data

The data I received came with citation information. What do I need it for?

Data have to be cited just like any other source of information. In order to facilitate citing, we provide data reusers with a citation model for each delivered dataset. Citation information can be found in the description and codebook of the data. If needed, you may adapt the citation (see the next question).

How do I cite the data in publications?

In the list of references, whenever possible, use the citation model provided by the FSD. The model can also be adapted to the citation style required by the publisher or publication, but each element mentioned in the FSD model has to be included. However, when it comes to texts and tables, you can apply the publisher's instructions. Versions of a dataset are comparable to editions of a book.

Finding Data

How do I find the dataset I need?

The most convenient way to find data is to use Aila search. There are three search types in Aila: data search (which searches through study descriptions), variable search, and expert search. You can search all fields or limit the search to particular fields. You can also choose to search only qualitative or quantitative data, or data in a particular language. Data descriptions in Finnish can also be found in Finna information search service. Links and more information: Searching data.

How do I keep informed of the latest datasets?

See Aila Data Catalogue. By default, the catalogue is sorted by publication date, with the most recent datasets shown first.

See more FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions