International polling poses special challenges to surveyors. The sampling procedures are specific to each country and may affect what mode is selected for data collection. For example, in many countries face-to-face interviewing may be the only available method that covers the entire population. In addition, data collection needs to be coordinated across multiple countries and field organizations. One of the biggest challenges in international surveying is how questions are translated and interpreted across multiple cultures and languages.

Most of the international surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center are through the Pew Global Attitudes Project. The Pew Global Attitudes surveys were launched on a regular basis in 2002. The Project has conducted a series of worldwide public opinion surveys that encompasses a broad array of subjects, ranging from people’s assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life also conducts international surveys about the role of religion around the world.

Depending on the data collection mode best suited to a country, the surveys are conducted by telephone or face-to-face. Most of the national surveys are representative of the entire population of a given country. Although sometimes it is necessary to limit the coverage and conduct interviews only in certain areas, resulting in a survey that is not fully representative nationally.