Support System for Research Synthesis (SSRS)
This database differs from current bibliographies and data-archives. It deals with research findings rather than on the sources for such findings. As this method is new, there is no common word for it. We call it a finding-filer.
The data system consists of four related inventories, the interrelations of which are depicted on this flowchart
- Bibliography, focused on subjective enjoyment of life-as-a-whole
- Inventory of accepted indicators of that matter (item bank)
- Inventory of distributional findings
- Inventory of correlational findings
The contents of all inventories are made visible on the Internet. See technical details.
This data system is meant to support research synthesis, both narrative literature reviews and quantitative meta-analyses. The system helps to order the available findings and facilitates comparison across time and place. The system is built to cope with the following problems of research integration: a) chronic confusion of tongues, b) growing mass of research findings, c) scattered publication of findings, and d) selective reviewing and retrieval of findings. As such this data system allows a better accumulation of available knowledge.
The system consists of the following components:
- Three relational Databases, implemented in MS Access. The main database involves: the selected studies, the indicators of happiness used in these studies and the findings yielded with these indicators, both distributional findings and correlational finding. Next there are two additional databases that contain more detailed information about respectively the literature (bibliography) and distributional findings in nations. For most purposes these additional databases can be left out.
In most cases standard Access facilities are used, in some cases (e.g. additional validation and computation) routines in Visual Basic are added.
The staff uses the Access Databases to enter and validate all data. They use Windows computers, on a LAN, the database resides on the server. All authorized staff members can work simultaneously with the databases.
- Presentation on the Internet: To allow other investigators to view the inventories, a presentation of the available data is made on the Internet, as follows: Each entity that is presented is made as a HTML page with PHP code. The PHP code accesses MySQL as the database system, containing the data. The databases are regularly converted from Access to MySQL using a utility program. To maintain the text portions of the internet-site, a site-management tool is required. Dreamweaver is currently used for that purpose.
Availability of the software
The software of this data system is available on request for colleague investigators on the conditions that: 1) this source is properly cited (see below), 2) that the application made publicly available, and 3) that interested scientists can find the application though a link on this site.
How to adjust the system for your purpose
The present version of this data system is tailored to the subject of happiness, but the system can also be used for research synthesis in other fields. This requires first of all a conceptual design and then a technical implementation
- Start with a clear definition of the subject matter you aim at. This definition will serve as a criterion for inclusion of studies in the Bibliography.
- On the basis of that definition, then delineate acceptable indicators. Enter full descriptions of these indicators is the Item Bank and classify if necessary.
- Next prepare for recording the research findings obtained with these indicators in the inventory of Correlational Findings. This requires a classification of the findings by kind, which we call the 'subject classification'. You can either adjust the subject classification used for this database of happiness or devise a new one. If you want to categorize findings according to the kind of people studied, you can then adjust the classification by 'publics'. If you want to order findings according to research methodology you can start from the available classifications of sampling methods, statistics and study designs. A look at the tables in this database of happiness will at least alert you to what you may need.
- If cross-national comparison is a great issue in your field, it may be helpful to use the inventory of Distributional Findings in Nations. Yet the same information can also be stored in the inventory of Correlational Findings, if you enter the nation in the classification of 'Publics'
- When entering summaries of research findings in this system you may use the standard terminology described in the introductory text to the section on Correlational Findings. For a look click here.
Some adjustments to the systems may be needed, dependant on the analysis as described in the previous paragraph and/or the IT environment available. This should be a subject for discussion between the two teams.
Ruut Veenhoven and Henk DeHeer, Support System for Research Synthesis (SSRS), Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands: http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl/datasystem.htm
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