The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, located at Cornell University, is one of the world’s leading archives of social science data, specializing in data from public opinion surveys. The Center’s mission is to collect, preserve, and disseminate public opinion data; to serve as a resource to help improve the practice of survey research; and to broaden the understanding of public opinion through the use of survey data in the United States and abroad. Founded in 1947, the Roper Center holds data ranging from the 1930s, when survey research was in its infancy, to the present. Its collection now includes over 22,000 datasets and adds hundreds more each year. In total, the archive contains responses from millions of individuals on a vast range of topics.
Most of the surveys in the Roper Center were conducted on national samples, but there are also some state and local surveys, as well as a number of surveys of special populations of interest. Nearly all of the surveys are based on representative samples drawn according to the best practices of the time. Most of the data are from the United States, but over 100 nations are represented. Since its beginning, the Roper Center has focused on surveys conducted by the news media and commercial polling firms. However, it also holds many academic surveys, including important historical collections from the National Opinion Research Center and Princeton University’s Office of Public Opinion Research.
The Roper Center has a strong presence in the public opinion community and maintains cooperative relationships with other archives around the world. Its Board of Directors includes representatives from both academic and commercial public opinion research.
The Center’s Purpose
The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research is the leading educational facility in the field of public opinion. The Center exists to promote the intelligent, responsible, and imaginative use of public opinion in addressing the problems faced by Americans and citizens of other nations. In an increasingly complex and interdependent global environment, the Roper Center hopes to foster increased international understanding and to promote cross-national research. Through the maintenance of the world’s largest archive of survey data, and through its programs, presentations, and advanced research, the Roper Center strives to improve the practice of survey research and the use of survey data in the United States and abroad.
- Promoting the informed use of survey research and public opinion information.
- Maintaining, and constantly enlarging, a web-based library of survey research and public opinion data.
- Developing access tools for researchers to secure required information.
- Increasing international understanding and promoting cross-national research on political and social issues.
Many give theoretical acknowledgment to the idea that the public must be heard accurately, but the Roper Center alone is building a comprehensive research facility to ensure that the views of the public are recorded properly. The Center brings individual surveys together, enabling any researcher to better grasp what public opinion is. Survey data housed in the Center’s extensive archive are made accessible to academic and policy researchers, the press, business, and others who are interested in poll findings. The Center’s graduate training program, moreover, works to give students a firm grounding in the essentials of survey research, preparing them to play a role in the professional world of survey research. With the largest public opinion library available anywhere in the world, one that is complemented by rigorous training and publications programs, the Roper Center provides for a “public audit” of polling data and reports of public opinion. As a non-profit, non-partisan public opinion data archive, the Center is in a unique position to help clarify the public’s voice.