Madiera Portal User Guide

Searching and browsing the portal
To Browse the Portal Using the Tree
To Search the Portal Using Input Box
Display of Search Results
To Examine a Resource
How to Get the Dataset that You Found .
To Learn More about the Portal
Some Terms Used in the User Guide

The Madiera Portal provides unified access to an unprecedented quantity of social science datasets published by data archives registered with the portal. In the portal users may browse and search for datasets in several European languages.

The portal harvests documentation of published datasets, organizes the extracted information using a set of multilingual thesauri and taxonomies and makes the result available through a responsive and highly customizable Web interface. Datasets may be explored through the portal and users may do simple analysis or download data in preferred format in the Web interface, Nesstar WebView.

The portal is primarily aimed at the social science research community and university teachers and students. However, anyone can access the portal and browse its data resources. Access to actual datasets may be restricted, following conditions for use set by the participant archives and data depositors. The portal and this user guide will instruct you on how to get access to these data.

Searching and browsing the portal

The opening screen of the portal is divided in two panels. The left side lists the different ways the data in the portal is organized. All information in the portal can be accessed by selecting options on the left side. On top of the panel, in the search field, users may enter their own free text queries. The outcome of a search or browse process initiated on the left hand side, lists of datasets or variables, is displayed on the right hand side.

In the portal there are two basic techniques for looking up data, search or browse:

To Browse the Portal Using the Tree

Users expand or collapse the tree by clicking the nodes (marked with plus or minus) The top level node represents the portal itself. When the top level is selected, an introductory text to the portal properties will be displayed on the right side.

When selecting an option, the corresponding versions in different languages will be displayed as a next level. The right side will display a short corresponding explanation of the classification or thesaurus chosen.

Each thesaurus or classification contains a set of terms, representing keywords or concepts. Under each term users will find more specific or alternative terms. When users click on a term all data-resources that have been indexed with this term or any of its equivalents, in any of the other supported languages, will be displayed in the panel on the right side. The number in parentheses after the term indicates the number of resources found.

If there are more concepts than can be displayed in the window at one time, a black arrow will appear on the left, under the list of concepts. By clicking the arrow users can scroll the list up and down.

Not all thesaurus terms are displayed in the tree, only those that have been used to index a resource.


Find ELSST_FREE_TEXT (English Version), the upper level term GOVERNMENT (11400+ hits). The number of hits in parenthesis tells you how many resources (studies, sections or variables) correspond to this or narrower terms under it in the tree. Choose a narrower term EUROPEAN GOVERNMENT (24 hits). The resources that match the search will appear to the right. The portal looks up resources in different languages.
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To Search the Portal Using Input Box

Enter your search term in the input box on top of the left column. Then press enter or the “SEARCH” button. “Translate” will look up the term in the multilingual thesaurus and if the term is found, the search will be performed in all languages supported.

The Madiera portal employs the Lucene query language. The following are examples of queries in English:

sex Finds all resources containing the word sex.
sex economics
Finds all resources containing either the word sex OR the word economics
sex AND economics
Finds all resources containing both the word sex AND the word economics.
"primary education"
Finds all resources containing the phrase “primary education”.
abstract:"primary education"
Finds all resources where the abstract element of the documentation contains the phrase “primary education”.
sex AND economics AND type:study
Finds all studies containing both the word sex AND the word economics.
sex AND economics AND type:variable
Finds all the variables containing both the word sex AND the word economics.
archive:(NSD UKDA ...)
Finds all resources published by the archives listed in (NSD UKDA ...).

There are five searchable declared fields for study:

title searches the resource's title
searches the resource's abstract
searches the organization publishing the resource on the server
searches the classification field indicating the broad substantive topic(s) that the resource's data covers.
searches the resource's keywords

There are four searchable declared fields for section (variable group):

title searches the resource's title
searches the resource's abstract
searches the general subject to which this variable group may be seen as pertaining.
searches the brief notes on variable group

There are five searchable declared fields for variable:

title searches the resource's title
searches the resource's abstract
searches the general subject to which this variable may be seen as pertaining.
searches the brief notes on variable
searches the text of the actual, literal question asked.

For all the fields use lower case, for all the operators (AND OR NOT) use upper case.

The list of resources that match a query will be displayed on the panel on the right. Under the left side tree users will have the search history appended. Users may return to any of these searches displayed under the tree.

Expanding the search

Users may expand a search to all the languages supported in the portal by ticking the box after the “SEARCH” button [expand search with equivalent terms]. This functionality employs the ELSST thesaurus. It is necessary to use the basic form of a word as the search term. This will not function for words with endings. Furthermore, if a user chooses a word in basic form, but the word does not appear in the ELSST thesaurus, the search can not be expanded.


1) If you make a search in Finnish and enter the word ‘lasten' in the search field (a genitive in plural of ‘lapset', children), you will find datasets in Finnish as a result, but you cannot expand your search to other languages. Whereas, if you write the word in nominative plural ‘lapset', you may expand your query to other languages, as this term is in the thesaurus.

On the other hand, if you are looking for datasets from just one country in just one language, this search option gives you more possibilities for search terms than the thesauri or classification based browsing.

2) If you want to look for data in just some of the languages. For example, Danish and German using the same term, you have two ways of doing this. First, you could expand your search using the red cross icon. After this you have to go through the input box and delete the languages you do not want to include in your search. However, might have several languages where the word is written similarly. For example you have three languages where the English term CHILDREN is BARN. Thus, your search will return Danish but also Swedish and Norwegian.

However, you may choose the archive, and limit the results that way. If you write ‘barn AND archive:DDA', in the input box, your search returns data that has the term ‘barn' in one or more of the searchable fields and which are located in the DDA.

Second way of limiting the languages included in the search: first, perform a search using the left hand tree. For example, choose ELSST free text English version, pick age groups, and finally a more specific term adults. There are 4562 hits, which you wish to limit by language. In this case, you want to have the results in French and Spanish. Look at the list of Equivalent Terms in Other Languages . Copy and paste the words ADULTOS and ADULTES to the input box and click on the torch-icon. Note that in this search your search result includes only those data resources that are in the portal in the language of the given terms. As long as there are no data sets from the Spanish or French archives, you will get only data sets that are in these languages but published in other countries, e.g. Switzerland.

Clearing the search field

You may clear the search input box using the red cross icon (next to the right of the expand icon).
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Display of Search Results

If you are browsing the portal using the left side tree, i.e. Council of European Social Science Data Archives Classification, European Language Social Science Thesaurus (ELSST), ELSST_FREE_TEXT, or Archives, a click on a term in the tree will give you the results on the right hand panel. On top of the results there is a clause explaining how many resources match the search term and its synonyms in other languages in the ELSST. This clause also tells you the fields that were included in the search.

Second, you will get a table of resources, i.e. study descriptions, lists of sections and variables in the studies that match the ELSST term.

Below the list of resources you will have a list of ‘Related terms' and ‘More specific terms' in the search language as well as a list of ‘Equivalent terms in other languages'. If you use the input box for searching, there are no term lists, just the resources matching your query. Note that the same resource will typically appear under multiple concepts.

On the bottom of the right side panel you will also have links to other information resources, search engines and data bases and their search results to your term.
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To Examine a Resource

To examine one of the resources on the list, click on it. A click on a link in the column Study or In study will open a Nesstar WebView window of the home archive of the resource and show the abstract of the study. A click on a resource in the column Section or In Section and Variable will similarly open the Nesstar WebView and show you the section in the study or the variable which match your query. Note that the resources may appear in any of the data archives' national languages that are present in the portal.

In the archives' Nesstar WebView there is more information on the data resource you are examining than what you see in the MADIERA portal. You will typically see a study description, data files description, other documentation and a variable description.

You can now use the WebView interface to examine the resource metadata and data, when available. The WebView gives you possibilities to perform simple analysis on the dataset, and in some cases, to download the dataset to your own personal computer for further analysis.

About analysis and functionalities of the WebView, read more in the Nesstar WebView User Guide and see a demonstration

How to Get the Dataset that You Found

To be able to download the dataset that is available through the portal, in most cases, you will need to get a user identification and password from the host archive holding the dataset. Contact information to each data archive is given in the archive's Internet pages, which are easily accessible through the links given in the MADIERA portal.

If the data cannot be downloaded, you need to contact the archive in your country of residence (or if there is no archive, to contact the host archive holding the dataset).

To Learn More about the Portal

Check the Madiera Portal FAQ, which can be entered through the introduction text of the MADIERA portal. For any question regarding the service, contact
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Some Terms Used in the User Guide


CESSDA (Council of European Social Science Data Archives) promotes the acquisition, archiving and distribution of electronic data for social science teaching and research in Europe. Find ore information about the organisation and its members

CESSDA classification

The CESSDA classification is a simple two-level classification for social science datasets. This version of the classification matches on subject only. It is available in German, Danish, Greek, English, Spanish, Finnish, French, Norwegian and Swedish.

DDI - Data Documentation Initiative

The Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) is an effort to establish an international XML-based standard to document datasets in the social and behavioural sciences. Describing and tagging the datasets in a common, integrated way, using DDI, makes it possible to distribute and share data widely across the Internet. The DDI currently features over 300 different tags. Just a part of them is in use in the metadata that you find in the Madiera portal. Read all about DDI

ELSST- European Language Social Science Thesaurus

The ELSST is a multilingual social science thesaurus. It is available in German, Danish, Greek, English, Spanish, Finnish, French, Norwegian and Swedish. It includes more than 3000 terms.

There are two versions of ELSST in the portal. The ELSST version matches on keywords only. The ELSST Free Text version matches on a few key text fields e.g. title, abstract, keywords, variables and subject.

MADIERA project

The overall goal of the project Multilingual Access to Data Infrastructures of the European Research Area , MADIERA is to develop an effective infrastructure for the European social science community by integrating data with other tools, resources and products of the research process. The main product of the project is the MADIERA portal.

The infrastructure will, as the Web itself, have the capacity to grow and diversify even after the initial construction period. Indeed, one of the main objectives of the project is to create a sustainable system, nurtured by the collective energy of the data and knowledge producing communities of the European Research Area.

The MADIERA is funded by the European Commission under the Fifth Framework programme. The date of completion is 28th of February 2006. There are eight contractors in the project. In addition to the co-ordinator, Norwegian Social Science Data Services, there are four principal contractors: UK Data Archive, Danish Data Archive, Finnish Social Science Data Archive, Nesstar Limited, and three assistant contractors: SIDOS, Social Data Bank, and the Zentralarchiv.


Metadata is information about a dataset. It describes, for example, how, when, and by whom the data was collected, what was asked and from whom.

In the Madiera Portal, you will see metadata when you choose a resource that you have found in your search. The study title, abstract, access information, subject categories and keywords are shown in the right hand panel. If you choose to access any of the available data servers, and if the whole dataset is published to be downloaded from the server, there will be additional metadata. You will typically see a study description, data files description, other documentation and a variable description. If you are looking at a resource where the dataset is not included, a data files description and variable description are not available.

The metadata in the portal is given in XML using DDI specification.

Nesstar WebView

Nesstar WebView is a web-based system for the dissemination of data. It can be used to view data, including tabular (cube) data, and metadata. It enables data held on a Nesstar Server to be viewed with an ordinary web browser. Read more in the Nesstar WebView User Guide and see a demonstration

Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS)

The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) was established by Eurostat more than 25 years ago in order to provide a single uniform breakdown of territorial units for the production of regional statistics for the European Union. It is available in English.
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