The European Centre for Analysis in the Social Sciences (ECASS) in the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) was a research infrastructure for European research and data analysis, supported by the European Commission Access to Research Infrastructures Programme.

It was created to foster the mobility of European researchers and promote pan-European research networks. Its aim was to help researchers gain access to existing facilities at the University of Essex by providing travel and subsistence support for short-term research visits. Over its 14-year existence from 1996-2000 it welcomed nearly 500 visitors providing some 22,000 days of access to ISER resources and expertise. Its last visitor left in March 2010.

Led by Marcia Freed Taylor, assisted by John Brice and Kate Tucker, ECASS was one of only four European Large Scale facilities (later renamed Major Research Infrastructures) in the social and economic sciences by the European Commission. It provided a first-class service essential for top-quality research and offering excellent scientific, technical and logistic support to external, particularly first-time users.

The results of ECASS activities included a large number of completed and expanded PhDs, a wide variety of publications, and a highly motivated network of collaborative and comparative researchers spread throughout Europe. ECASS was instrumental in the establishing of both vertical and horizontal research networks – those involving both senior and more junior researchers and those between researchers just starting out on their academic careers.

Several researchers went on to work or study at ISER and many more continue to be involved in collaborative projects and networks with former ECASS visitors and ISER researchers.

The programme has ended but the ECASS effect continues.

Read Marcia Freed Taylor’s look back at ECASS in ISER’s annual report, Taking the Long View.

More about ECASS

ECASS was:

  • An interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Essex within the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER).
  • A centre for comparative and longitudinal data analysis, conducting and facilitating the empirical study of social and economic change by integrating longitudinal and cross-national European datasets, providing the support services required for their analyses, and acting as the host for major substantive research programmes.
  • Selected as a Large Scale Facility under the Training and Mobility of Researchers (TMR) Programme of the European Commission and as a Major Research Infrastructure under the European programme Improving Human Potential (IHP) and the Socio-economic Knowledge Base. Framework Programme 6 funding was granted under the Structuring the European Research Area programme.
  • Created to sponsor new opportunities for research teams (including individual researchers) to obtain access to individual major research infrastructures they require for their work, thus increasing the human resources available for research and technological development.

ECASS offered:

  • opportunities for collaboration with researchers within ISER and participation in its research and training programmes.
  • access to 7,000 significant social indicator data sets about all aspects of economic, political and social life in the UK Data Archive (UKDA).
  • access to University library and to ISER’s social science research resources library, which includes published and unpublished literature on survey design and data analysis, and a wide-ranging collection of survey-related documentation.
  • access to a range of specialist micro-data resources within ISER.
  • access to EUROMOD, an integrated European benefit-tax model for the EU.

ECASS benefited:

  • Visitors (usually scientific researchers) working within an institution in an EU Member State or in an FP6 Associated State (Bulgaria, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Norway, Romania, Croatia, Switzerland and Turkey) on non-proprietary research. Visits lasted from three weeks to three months.