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Center for Educational Research and Evaluation


Educational research profits greatly from the availability and analysis of longitudinal survey and competence test data. As the collection of such data and the preparation of a corresponding large-scale database is a challenging and expensive task, the results of these efforts ought to be shared among the scientific community. This article introduces the illuminating example of the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) and provides an insight into some of the key processes implemented in preparing and disseminating its rich empirical data to researchers from different disciplines and from all over the world. First, a short overview of the design and research topics of the NEPS is presented. The NEPS thus has a clear focus on competence development and educational processes—taking into account the relevant life-course-specific learning environments as well as issues of social inequality and educational decisions. Other major aspects include the special situation of persons with migration background and the various returns to education. As part of six different starting cohorts—ranging from early childhood to late adulthood—about 60,000 participants are interviewed and tested regularly in different survey modes. Second, the article describes the most relevant work processes for the creation of Scientific Use Files—for example, data cleaning and editing, coding and variable generation, documentation and metadata management, as well as data enrichment. The data protection and dissemination strategies are also explained here. Third, the article finally also gives some basic information about data usage as well as an outlook on future developments within the NEPS.