January 28, 2015

How to access Pew Research Center survey data

Earlier in January, Pew Research Center released the full dataset from our largest study ever conducted on U.S. politics, the 2014 Political Polarization and Typology survey, to make it available to researchers.

For the study, we interviewed 10,013 adults on landline and cellphones. The dataset includes more than 150 measures of political attitudes and behavior, plus a complete set of demographic variables. It also has the full series of political-values items asked on Pew Research Center surveys dating back to 1994; the summary measures of ideological consistency and typology group membership constructed using these items; and measures of partisan animosity and political engagement used in the center’s reports released in 2014.

There are two ways to locate and download this and any other Pew Research Center dataset. Each research area at the Center has a “Datasets” or “Data and Resources” section with the available data listed in reverse chronological order by when the survey was fielded:

Pew Research Datasets

To download a particular dataset, click the “Download” button. You will be asked to fill out a short information sheet, which helps us better understand who is using our data. It also allows us to notify users if there is any update or change to the data.

The Center makes the data available for most of its reports. If a dataset is available, you will see an icon on the right hand side of the page and a label indicating that it is available for downloading:

FT_15.01.28_getData2

We typically do not publish the dataset at the same time as the report. That’s because it takes some time for us to complete all reporting for a given study and to clean and prepare the data for public release. The lag time varies by study, and some data (including surveys of certain populations, such as scientists or foreign policy experts) are never released, in order to protect respondent confidentiality. Survey data are cleaned to remove any information that could be used to identify individual respondents.

It is important to note that researchers who want to use Pew Research Center data files need to have experience working with these types of datasets, as well as statistical software such as SPSS, SAS, STATA or R. Most of our files are provided as SPSS .sav files, which can be converted for use with other types of statistical software. A few of our older files are provided as ASCII text files with a fixed layout. These can be read into any appropriate software.

Included with most datasets available for download is additional material related to the study. A “readme” file is included that describes the data and may include special notes about the data, or syntax for specific variables that are constructed. A full questionnaire provides question wording and ordering for the study (and can be used as a codebook). In the case of ASCII datasets, the questionnaire and/or readme provide layout instructions. Most dataset releases also include a topline and a full methodology statement.

Pew Research Center datasets are widely used by scholars and students. Among the hundreds of survey datasets available, here are some of the most popular and frequently downloaded:

Topics: Research Methods

  1. Photo of Scott Keeter

    is senior survey advisor at Pew Research Center.