How to access Pew Research Center survey data
Pew Research Center regularly makes available the full datasets that underlie most of our reports. We typically do not publish the dataset at the same time as the report.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.
There are two ways to locate available datasets. You can go to this page and click on the research area in which you are interested. Or you can go to the research area’s page on the Center’s website, where you will find a “Datasets” or “Data and Resources” section with the available data listed in reverse chronological order by when the survey was fielded.
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.
If you are reading a report and a dataset is available for that study, you will see an icon on the upper right hand side of the page and a label indicating that it is available for downloading:
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.
Topics: Research Methods
Scott Keeter is a senior survey advisor at Pew Research Center.