Core Elements: Required for Recently Developed Methods, Strongly Encouraged for All Data Providers
Additional Elements: Encouraged for All Data Providers
Required Disclosure: Longstanding Methods Collection
- Information about who sponsored the survey, including all funding sources
- Field work provider, if outsourced
- The exact wording of questions asked, including the text of any preceding instruction or explanation to the interviewer or respondents that might reasonably be expected to affect the response.
- A definition of the population under study, and a description of the sampling criteria used to identify this population.
- A description of the sample selection procedure that gives a clear indication of whether or not the researcher selected the respondents or they were self-selected.
- The size of samples and, if applicable, completion rates and information on eligibility criteria and screening procedures. For the purpose of this policy statement response rate definition and calculation will be informed by the AAPOR report entitled “Standard Definitions.” The report defines standardized measures for response rates, cooperation rates, refusal rates and contact rates. Each of these rates requires a count of the disposition of all units selected in the sample. The various disposition codes are standardized in the report.
- There should be a discussion of the precision of the findings, including, if appropriate, estimates of sampling error, and a description of any weighting or estimating procedures that were used.
- A listing of which results are based on parts of the sample, rather than on the total sample.
- The mode, location, and dates of data collection.
The following guidelines were approved by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research Board of Directors on November 19, 2002, and reviewed in June, 2012.
Two broad categories are included in the scope of the Center’s acquisition efforts.
- A primary effort is made to acquire respondent-level data from surveys that may or may not have been released publicly by the original data producer or sponsoring organization. This constitutes the Roper Center’s core collection. Studies in this category offer the unrivaled potential for secondary analysis. The Center was founded, principally, on the acquisition and re-analysis of survey data in this format. This acquisition category consists of two collections based on methodological approaches: Longstanding Methods and Recently Developed Methods.
- A second category includes interpretive survey reports, marginal data, and news releases. These can include physical or digital materials. These collections supplement the respondent-level data referred to above, and in some cases, provide the only preserved record of the survey. For surveys conducted using Longstanding Methods, these materials are entered into the online polling database regardless of whether respondent level data is acquired. For Recently Developed Methods, these materials are only entered into the database if individual-level data are also provided.
While the Center was built upon the acquisition of respondent-level data, the importance of acquiring, preserving and making accessible marginal data cannot be underestimated within the context of the Center’s mission and the diversity of its clientele. Moreover, full marginal data constitute essential documentation of the respondent-level data.
Collections must be of current value or potential historical interest.
Material is generally selected in the following descending order of priority:
- United States national population probability samples
- Representative subsamples of US national populations (e.g., women, teenagers)
- US state exit polls or other state representative polls not in ‘national’ collections
- Representative samples of other countries and regions
Additional Acquisitions Considerations
Risk of Data Loss
Material may be acquired to mitigate the risk of data loss.
Availability of Data Elsewhere
Data may be acquired because the information is not available from another reputable, accessible data archive.
Technical Criteria that May Affect Acquiring Material Include:
- The general condition of the study/collection and whether it requires costly methods to preserve or make it accessible
- Whether there are any specific restrictions that would not allow the material to be freely accessible to researchers (however, the Center will occasionally accept “embargoes” on certain questions for limited periods of time, and it will accept a restriction that, for a limited period of time, where data may be disseminated only with the academic membership of the Center)
- Whether the cost of processing materials is higher than normally expected
What Will Not Be Acquired
There are no firm rules concerning the kinds of survey material that will not be acquired. However, the following list represents a compilation of current practices at the Center and may serve as a guide to the staff and to the Committee as it implements this Acquisition Policy. There have been and will again be exceptions to some or all of these customary practices.
- Surveys without content that is salient to the Center’s Mission and Purpose, such as many marketing studies of single products
- Surveys with sample sizes that are too small to represent any population
- Surveys which are not intended to represent a broader population beyond the individuals who participated.
- Surveys where release of the respondent-level data would pose an unreasonable and uncontrollable risk of violation of respondents’ privacy and confidentiality
- Data resulting from “push polls” and other uses of survey methodologies to gather data for purposes other than legitimate survey research
- Surveys for which the data collector will not provide the full questionnaire or required methodological information.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Acquisition Policy recognizes that professional judgment is central to making decisions about new acquisitions. The broad criteria described above will serve as a guide for archive staff in their continuing efforts to build unique and valuable data collections. The Center’s Executive Director will provide final approval of all new acquisition efforts to oversee appropriate interpretation of these guidelines and safeguard against over-committing Center resources. Beyond this document, the Transparency and Data Acquisitions Committee will serve in an advisory capacity to Center staff. To facilitate this role, archive staff will provide a periodic report on recent acquisitions and rejections. In specific cases where there are questions regarding the implementation of this Policy, Center staff will call upon the Acquisitions Committee for its advice and recommendations.