Digital Futures

About the project

The Digital Futures project encompassed three strands of work. First, requirements gathering, system design, implementation and testing, and preparation of enhanced qualitative data to populate the new Qualibank data browsing system.

In 2014, the project launched Qualibank, a user-friendly platform for publishing, presenting and searching the content of qualitative data, and enabling citation of these data at the data level, used by the UK Data Service for publishing many of our key qualitative data collections.

The system offers streamlined and robust methods and schemas that can be used by others when systematically publishing qualitative data.

The second strand, enhancing existing data, which had been in non-digital format, working within a user-driven framework guided by linked scholars and teachers who will be actively working on some of the data. Enhanced data, such as digitised open-ended questions from surveys and transcribed interviews were prepared and published into Qualibank, developed in the first strand of work.

The third strand reached out to scholars to make use of published data assests in the system and its novel citation features, for example to show the value of persistent linking to paragraphs in the context of a whole interview.

A older project blog set out some of the detail of the work.

Events and webinars


  • The QualiBank system
  • The qualitative metadata standard QuDEx used in QualiBank
  • Metadata entry tool for describing digital objects in a qualiative data collection

Project staff edited and published a collection of papers in a special edition of the Sage Open journal: Digital Representations: Re-Using and Publishing Digital Qualitative Data. Five contributions with a social science or social historical perspective presented the current ‘state of the art’ in the field of re-using and publishing digital qualitative data.

The articles addressed the use of digital sources in qualitative research in both research and teaching, charting types of use over the past ten years, and looking forward to emerging practices and methods, such as the promise and potential that technological innovations can bring new ways of presenting and publishing qualitative research.

Papers linking to the Digital Futures’ Qualibank system

Some of the papers make use of direct linking to the Digital Futures’ Qualibank system, allowing the reader to explore “live” data sources, offering an opportunity to see how research transparency might be operationalised in the presentation of qualitative findings and reporting. The papers further reference major contributions to the literature, present stimulating debates on the topic and build on previously well-cited publications in which the editors presented state-of the-art articles on secondary analysis of qualitative data:

UK Data Service contribution

  • Principal Investigator: Louise Corti, UK Data Service
  • Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Project dates: October 2012 – March 2014