DANS turns 15 years old!

6 January 2020

DANS started as a small institute with 15 employees, and since then has grown into a major player in the Dutch data infrastructure over the last 15 years. With nearly 60 employees, DANS provides services to both institutions, data professionals and researchers to ensure permanent access to digital research data.

It is 15 years ago that DANS, on the 1st of June 2005, started as a joint initiative of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the National Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), with the aim of data infrastructure to improve the humanities and social sciences (back then).

Merging 4 initiatives

With the establishment of DANS, 4 initiatives merged together: the Steinmetz archive, the Dutch Historical Data Archive (NHDA), the Scientific Statistical Agency (WSA) and the Electronic Depot of Dutch Archaeology (EDNA).

Steinmetz collection – accessible over 55 years

By far the oldest initiative is the Steinmetz archive, established as a ‘Foundation for Storing and Making Existing Material of Social Research available’ on 27 November 1964 at the University of Amsterdam. This initiative can be seen as the starting point for data archiving in the humanities and social sciences in the Netherlands. In 1971, the Steinmetz archive became part of the KNAW. The oldest data sets date from the sixties of the last century, but are still available. Now available through the online archiving system EASY from DANS. See, for example, the datasets of prof. dr. Ivan Gadourek, professor of social science methodology at the University of Groningen from 1958 to 1985. 

Dutch Historical Data Archive (NHDA) – accessible for more than 30 years

A first proposal for a historical data archive was formulated within the Working Group on History and Informatics in August 1987. In 1989, the NWO recognised the NHDA as an expertise centre, but without funding. In 1995 it became part of the KNAW. The first datasets of the archive came from the History department of Leiden University, where it was housed until 1997. The NHDA collection is available via EASY.

Scientific Statistical Agency (WSA)

The WSA was established in 1994 as an intermediary for obtaining large data files from organisations such as the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) and the Land Registry. In the 1980s and early 1990s, obtaining these files was not easy and expensive. The WSA itself did not manage archives, but concluded contracts with data producers and arranged the supply of files to researchers at reduced rates. The data delivery to researchers at DANS became a free service within two years. The data contracts were revised and the changing views on public access to government-funded data led to the almost complete termination of payments for data. The so-called Public Use files of CBSSCP and Kadaster are still available via EASY.

Electronic Depot of Dutch Archaeology (EDNA)

The EDNA project was launched in 2004, a data archive for the electronic data of archaeological excavations. The project was transferred to DANS in 2005. Archaeology is by far the largest collection available through EASY, with more than 66,000 data sets.

The last 15 years

In 15 years, DANS has provided 3 (certified) services for researchers and data professionals:


Research data can already be stored, shared and published via DataverseNL during research. DataverseNL is offered jointly by the participating institutions and DANS. In 2014, DANS took over the management of DataverseNL from Utrecht University and DANS manages the network; the management of the data in the local repositories is in the hands of the institutions.


EASY is an online archiving system for depositing and reusing research data. In addition to the collections of the predecessors, many new datasets and collections are stored in EASY. EASY contains data sets from the humanities, health sciences, social and behavioural sciences, oral history and spatial sciences. Research data can be shared with others via EASY. Together we ensure sustainable access to and reuse of research data.


NARCIS stands for National Academic Research and Collaborations Information System and is the national portal for those looking for information about scientists and their research projects, publications and databases. A collaboration between KNAW Research Information, NWO, VSNU and METIS within the DARE program of SURFfoundation led to the NARCIS portal in 2004, to which the DAREnet service was added in 2007. NARCIS has been a DANS service since 2011. 

Training and consultancy

DANS has been actively involved in national and European projects for many years. The accumulated knowledge is reflected in the training courses, consultancy and project-based support for researchers, research institutions, research funders, data professionals and other archives, intended to jointly improve permanent access to digital research data.

On to the next 15 years

DANS will continue to provide permanent access to digital research data in the coming years. DANS does this, in collaboration with other institutes and data professionals, by encouraging researchers to make their digital research data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

What can we do for you?

In addition to the aforementioned services, DANS offers expert advice and organises various training courses and events on various topics. For example, the following events are on the agenda for 2020:


DANS has also developed a game for researchers: the DANS Data Game. Would you like to get hold of our Data Game? The game can be sent to you free of charge. Orders are possible via this web form

 Also follow our #DANSdatagame on Twitter.

Additional information

You can find more information about these and other DANS activities on this website and in the digital newsletter DataLink and the magazine E-data & Research. Please contact us!

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