The Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS) is a regional, independent, non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening social science research and knowledge production in the Arab region. By supporting researchers and academic/research institutions, the ACSS aims to contribute to the creation, dissemination, validation, and utilization of social science research.
Specifically, the ACSS objectives include:
- Identifying and addressing the needs of social scientists and social science communities in the Arab countries;
- Enhancing social science capacities of individual researchers, as well as academic and research institutions;
- Encouraging the production of independent, high quality research;
- Providing forums for exchange and communication among social scientists in the Arab region;
- Articulating and supporting the role of the social sciences in promoting the public interest;
- Promoting and supporting the principles of independent thought, critical thinking, and the academic/intellectual freedom of researchers and scholars in the Arab region;
- Supporting effective networks among research, academic, policy and practitioners’ communities as well as with the public and the media; and,
- Supporting the publication and wide dissemination of high quality social science research in the Arab region.
In collaboration with the Odum Institute for Research in Science at the University of North Carolina, the ACSS launched the Arab Public Data Initiative in 2018. The aims of the Initiative are to make data available for research in the Arab region and promote the norm of data preservation and data sharing among social scientists as well as research institutions.
The two streams of activities of this Initiative are (1) the establishment of an Arab social science data archive - the ACSS Dataverse and (2) capacity building for researchers, administrators, librarians, and archivists in the region on the principles and global best practices and tools in data archiving. An Advisory Committee guides the work of this Initiative.
The ACSS Dataverse is an online, public-access archive for social science data produced in and on the Arab region. It went live in June 2019 and is the first interdisciplinary social science data archive in the Arab region. Over 100 datasets were deposited into the ACSS Dataverse in the six months after it went live. Datasets that are deposited are de-identified, processed in keeping with global data archiving standards and made available to the public at no charge for the benefit of current and future generations.
To help improve skills in data management and archiving and therefore facilitate making data open, the ACSS is holding a series of regional trainings titled “Data Sharing for the Public Good” that bring together researchers, administrators, librarians, and archivists from diverse sectors (academia, public, private, NGOs, UN, …) and focus on the importance of data archiving for social science and public policy, and on global best practices in data archiving.
The Arab Public Data Initiative is housed in the Arab Social Science Monitor (ASSM), an observatory of the landscape of the social sciences and higher education in the Arab region. The ASSM documents the infrastructure of knowledge production in terms of institutions and resources and accounts for the evolving capacities and characteristics of the social science community across the region.