NSD / Nsd 50 ar med data til forskning / European Political Data 1971–1988

European Political Data 1971–1988

I 1971 så nyhetsbrevet "European Political Data" dagens lys. Stein Rokkan var redaktør og initiativtaker for EPD, hvis formål var å utveksle informasjon om eksisterende og planlagte datasamlinger, og om teknisk utvikling. Totalt ble det utgitt 69 eksemplarer av nyhetsbrevet fra april 1971 til desember 1988.

Written by: Stein Kuhnle
professor emeritus, Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen

The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) was established in 1970 by eight founding political science departments in (Western) Europe. Professor Stein Rokkan (1921–1979), University of Bergen, was one of the “founding fathers” of ECPR, and he became its first Chairman (1970–76).

As of 2021, the ECPR has more than 300 institutional members in nearly 50 countries. The main office and secretariat of the ECPR was located at the University of Essex, Colchester, and is still located in Colchester, but outside the university area.

This is what ECPR briefly says about its origin on its webpage:

"The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) was (...) the result of a project led by eminent political scientists, Jean Blondel and Stein Rokkan, to…‘break down the barriers between the national traditions of the discipline and create a truly international community of scholars within Europe…"

First issue released in April 1971

Rokkan initiated in 1971 the ECPR Data Information Service (DIS) as part of ECPR activities, and the secretariat was located at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), to which Rokkan was also affiliated.

The quarterly European Political Data Newsletter represented the main activity of DIS, and was established in 1971. The first issue of EPD was published in April 1971. Rokkan edited EPD from its inception until he died in July 1979.

In the first issue Stein Rokkan outlined that the aim of EPD was “to forge further links among the member institutions of the ECPR and between the ECPR network and the other organizations active on the national data front”.

The newsletter should focus on three tasks:

  1. give information on current data holdings and on planned or ongoing data generation efforts of direct interest in political analysis;
  2. offer notes and articles about further data sources potentially worth tapping;
  3. establish a forum for exchanges of information about technical developments on the data front (e.g. make members familiar with requirements for data transfer and program packages).

In addition, Rokkan stated: “we shall add a section of news about publications, projects, meetings, etc which may interest ECPR members”.

Mentioned plans for establishing a structure for data archiving in Norway

Among other notes in the first issue of April 1971, Rokkan reported on, under the heading of “The Norwegian Data Service for the Social Sciences”, the plans for finding a solution “to the problem of data archiving” in Norway, and that:

“There is some chance that a long-term solution will be found through the establishment of a federal structure under the Research Council: under this scheme there will be several local secretariats as well as one national office in Oslo”.

NSD was, subsequently, established in 1971. The main office was moved to Bergen in 1975, when Stein Rokkan wasappointed academic leader and Bjørn Henrichsen was appointed administrative leader (director) of NSD.

The note in the first issue of EPD was the first time information on the origins of NSD was disseminated to the international research community, and ever since the EPD closely followed the establishment and evolution of data archives and data services in European countries, as well as the development of collaborative international organizations of data archives.

Division between "Data Section" and "Computer Section" established in 1972

As of EPD no. 4, June 1972, the newsletter was divided into two main parts: “Data Section” and “Computing Section” (later changed to “Computer Section”), and this structure was maintained from then on.

Stein Kuhnle and Frank Aarebrot, both at Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen, served as assistants at DIS since the beginning in 1971 with responsibility for the EPD Data Section and Computer Section, respectively. Jarle Brosveet at the NSD took over the main responsibility of the Computer Section for the period 1976–1979.

Stein Rokkan edited the EPD from its inception until he died in July 1979.

At its meeting in Kent on November 10, 1979, the ECPR Executive Committee approved the proposal set forth by Bjørn Henrichsen, Director of NSD, and Derek Urwin, Official Representative of the ECPR at the University of Bergen, to continue the production of the newsletter in Bergen.

The Data Information Service was moved to NSD from 1980

The agreement on continuation of the publication included the decision that the Data Information Service was to be moved from the Chr. Michelsen Institute to NSD as of January 1, 1980.

Stein Kuhnle was invited – and accepted – to be editor of EPD, with prime responsibility for the Data Section, while Atle Alvheim, NSD, was commissioned to take over responsibility of the Computer Section. They both served in these positions until the final issue of EPD in December 1988.

With the change of secretariat and editorship it was decided to establish both a local editorial board (8 members), and an international editorial board with members from “ECPR countries” (16 members).

Also, the format of the EPD was slightly changed and appeared with an improved look and layout.

Aims and tasks of the newsletter

The International Editorial Board met regularly at the annual ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops during the 1980s to review and develop the publication and ideas for future coverage of news.

The EPD Newsletter no. 37, supplement, December 1980, summed up the aims and tasks of the newsletter. It should bring information on:

  • archival services in and beyond Europe;
  • projects of data generation and data organizations;
  • data sources of potential interest;
  • presentation of books based on extensive data analysis;
  • country reports on data generation activities;
  • comparative inventories from similar fields of research;
  • research notes;
  • announcements of relevant (data and computer software) meetings, workshops, etc;
  • computer software problems;
  • news and development of software packages;
  • technical questions of data transmission and data management.

The cost of production and distribution of the EPD Newsletter was shared by the ECPR and the host institution in Bergen (Chr. Michelsen Institute 1971–1979, NSD 1980–1988).

A total of 69 issues of EPD were published from April 1971 until the last issue in December 1988, when the ECPR Executive Committee decided to incorporate the EPD Newsletter into the ECPR News Circular which had been regularly published by the ECPR Central Services in Essex.

For an indication of the content of the EPD Newsletter, see the supplement listed in December 1980, with an index of contents in Nos. 17–33.

Issues of European Political Data newsletter

NSD will release an extensive list of the EPD newsletters published with Rokkan as editor, and later. The issues are available in pdf format.








More issues will be made available throughout the year, as part of NSDs 50 years anniversary, and Stein Rokkan's 100th anniversary.