Workshop on Socio-Political Question Database

The increase in the number of surveys archived and disseminated raises new challenges for data archives and researchers. Indeed, without new tools, the growth of the number of surveys makes it increasingly difficult for users to identify surveys that are relevant for them. Without new tools, combining different surveys with similar questions to conduct comparative research is also increasingly a daunting task. Survey designers who wish to reuse questions asked in previous surveys also need tools to find similar questions.

This workshop will be the occasion for data archives specialists, data producers and social scientists to share thoughts and experiences on this topic. Several data archives will present their existing application or their project toward question database. The comparison of these applications will certainly bring up fruitful discussions on challenges for research and data archiving and data producers.


Preliminary program

8:30 – Registration, coffee

9:00 – Introduction Laurent Lesnard (CDSP, France) and Roxane Silberman (Réseau Quetelet, France)

9:30 – Session 1 – New challenges for researchers, data producers and data archives

  • Nanna Floor Clausen (DDA, Danemark) Question Bank – new and comparative research at a glance
    I will first present the Danish question bank and then in general I will discuss the benefits a researcher has when having access to a question bank. In the question bank he/she can find the questionnaire itself, the wording, variables and categories from surveys that have been carried out.
  • Marion Wittenberg (DANS, Netherlands), Cultural Changes in the Netherlands, a dedicated question bank
  • The question bank Cultural Changes is a dedicated question bank for the study Cultural Changes of the Netherlands Institute for Social Research. It holds all the variables of this survey which has been conducted every (two) year(s) since 1975. The system contains about 2000 variables with question wordings concerning attitudes of the Dutch population to social, ideological and political issues. At the moment it functions as a back office system for the researchers of Netherlands Institute for Social Research. In the near future we will rebuild the system towards an online resource for a wider public.

  • Sanda Ionescu (ICPSR, USA) The Social Science Variables Database at ICPSR
    The ICPSR variables database is both DDI 2 and DDI 3 compliant and is built on a relational model shared with another unit of the Institute for Social Research – Survey Research Operations – to enable content exchange in a seamless fashion. The ICPSR database has been operational since early 2009. Its main application is a Web-based keyword search that enables ICPSR users to retrieve variables across studies, refine searches using certain parameters, and examine the context of relevant hits within a single study or a series of related studies. The SSVD currently includes about 1.5 million variables from approximately 2,200 studies, representing about 40 percent of ICPSR’s holdings; new content is being added every day. This presentation will describe how we populate and manage the database, the changes and improvements we have brought since its inception, and the feedback we have been able to obtain from users, as well as our future plans. I will also demonstrate the current search features, and the ways in which the search is integrated in our Web services.

11:00 – Coffee break

11:30 – Discussion 1 – What do researchers and other users expect from question database?

12:30 – Lunch
14:00 – Session 2 – Implementation, design and documentation issues

  • Alerk Amin (CentERdata, Netherlands) The Language Management Utility: a Question Bank for Survey Implementors
    The Language Management Utility (LMU) manages the questionnaire translation process for the SHARE and Understanding Society (UK) projects. It manages questions and their translations across various modules, waves, and languages. This presentation will demonstrate the functionality of the LMU, and how survey implementers use it to create their multi-language questionnaires.
  • Alerk Amin (CentERdata, Netherlands) The LISS Data Archive Website: Questions, Variables, and More
    The LISS Data Archive website provides all of the data and metadata for the longitudinal studies conducted with the LISS panel in the Netherlands.  Researchers can easily browse/search the questions, along with studies, variables, concepts, and more. This presentation will demonstrate the functionality of website, as well as provide information about how it was created.
  • Anne-Sophie Cousteaux, Xavier Schepler (Réseau Quetelet, France) Social Science Question Database and Research Tools
    The Réseau Quetelet, French data archives for social science, has developed a Social Science Question Database and Research Tools that allows users to search for questions (question texts, answer texts, variable labels) across datasets, compare results, and save them. The analysis can be extended to the roots of words or to include stop words. Information on each question include: questions text, categories of answer, location of the variable in the dataset, link to the variables before and after, instructions given to interviewers, text before and after the question, universe of the question, links to questionnaires. Users can store questions and export them (csv or xls). The question database is based on DDI (version 2) and the research module on Apache Solr.

15:15 – Coffee break

15:30 – Session 2 (continued)

  • Johan Fihn (SND, Sweden) Swedish National Data Service’s Question Bank
    The Question Bank of the Swedish National Data Service (SND) has been used in production on SND’s web pages since summer 2010. The Question Bank has been developed with reusability of question texts and translations in mind. This re-use of texts make it easy to find in which studies a particular question has been asked and enhances comparability between studies. Current developments for the Question Bank is to make it fully DDI3 based with eXist as database. eXist with its Lucene indexer makes searching the Question Bank very fast and flexible.
  • Jack Kneeshaw (UKDA, University of Essex, UK) The UK’s Survey Question Bank: Present and future developments
    The Survey Question Bank (SQB), managed by the UK Data Archive at the University of Essex, is a successor to the ESRC Question Bank (Qb), which has existed since 1995. In November 2010, the service launched a new question search tool at that allows users to search across a selection of key, recent UK social surveys held in the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) Nesstar Data Catalogue. The catalogue holds around 50 survey series and more than 200,000 questions (variables). Users of the tool can search for and retrieve questions and link them to: the survey response (frequency counts), the question as it appears in its native questionnaire, and the full survey dataset available via the ESDS.
    The tool queries a set of fields stored as DDI 1.2 metadata in a Nesstar Publisher database. In the future, we plan to copy and then re-engineer the underlying database so that the metadata are held in DDI 3.x. In doing so, we hope to add further question (or variable)-level metadata so that, e.g., links can be made between harmonised questions and questions that belong to a wider family (e.g., component questions of instruments/modules) can be matched. This presentation will demonstrate the tool as it is currently and describe planned developments.

16:30 – Discussion 2 – What should data archives carry out?

18:00 – Cocktail reception




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