CIMES (Centralising and Integrating Metadata from European Statistics) provides a large and comprehensive overview of official micro data disseminated for research purposes by the national statistical institutes (NSI) across Europe. It is a database describing these data and the procedures for requesting access to them with information about the different types of files available (Public Use Files, Scientific Use Files, Secure Use Files) available, conditions of access and links to the providers. It does not give a direct access to the data, it contains only metadata. CIMES thus gathers pieces of information that are currently scattered throughout Europe, either in NSIs or data archives, and stores them in a structured database compatible with the DDI standard.
The documentation distinguishes the series, the studies, and the datasets. A series is a set of studies and represents a longitudinal or repeated cross-sectional data collection process. It also illustrates the continuous data collection process carried out by the NSIs, where each wave of collection is a study. The dataset refers to the set of files which are disseminated. For example, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) is a series, the actual collection of the data in 2007 is a study, the LFS 2007, and the dataset is a set of files disseminated, for example the LFS Scientific Use File (SUF) 2007.
Each of these levels is documented by a list of fields and a controlled vocabulary. Currently CIMES covers 277 series including 1,893 studies and 2,244 datasets in 31 European countries, also providing links for the major European integrated microdata.
CIMES is a product of the European FP7 DwB project that aims at facilitating the use of the increasing number of official micro data in Europe. CIMES web-based application is developed by CASD/GENES. ADP, CED, CNRS-Réseau Quetelet, FORS, GESIS, RODA, ONS and UL have participated to CIMES, collecting and structuring the metadata for the time span of DwB project. The work is currently continuing with the support of CNRS and CASD/GENES.