Born as a collaboration of Stanford University and the University of Michigan, with funding by the National Science Foundation, National Election Survey (ANES) conducts national surveys of the American electorate in presidential and midterm election years and carries out research and development work through pilot studies in odd-numbered years, as well as presenting other major data collections including ad hoc stand alone studies. The mission of the ANES is to inform explanations of election outcomes by providing data that support rich hypothesis testing, maximize methodological excellence, measure many variables, and promote comparisons across people, contexts, and time. Now encompassing 30 biennial election studies spanning six decades, the Time-Series Studies are conducted both before and after the election and each study addresses a wide range of substantive themes including: expectations about the election outcome; perceptions and evaluations of the major parties and their candidates; interest in the campaign; information about politics; partisanship and so on. As part of its public mission, the ANES website provides open and free access to its data and documents allowing different options for accessing its material. Some content is also available in Spanish, while overall the website appears a bit too static and unwelcoming.
American National Election Studies
A quality data collection project and survey of U.S. electorate
Australian Centre for Social Research
An academic center fostering survey research
As a part of the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University, the Australian Center for Social Research (ACRS) conducts and supports survey and empirical research on Australian society. The Center is mainly devoted to large-scale social surveys and qualitative research. Its research projects are organized under four main areas, each of them described in details and provided with its own website with retrievable materials. Social science data files concerning the entire country are provided, drawn from universities, market research companies, and government organizations. Overall, the ACRS website contains over 1,000 datasets related to Australian surveys and opinion polls, and population census data, as well as material from other countries within the Asia Pacific region. The ACRS website is integrated with the ASSDA’s, the Australian Social Science Data Archive, part of the international network CESSDA, and also with the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA) website. Therefore, many statistical and survey data are provided through this cooperations, and their access depends on the depositors’ policy. Documents stored in the archives are generally made available for secondary analysis. Search and downloading tools are provided in the integrated pages, while navigation in the ACRS main site is very effective.
Baromètre Politique Français
A French research center on political and electoral issues
The Baromètre Politique Français (BPF), created with support from two French Ministries and located in the CEVIPOF research center in Paris, is a relevant source of electoral and social surveys. Founded in 2005 the BPF is a systematic academic survey on the French political life enriched by the 20-year long Cevipof surveys’ experience. The first BPF surveys took place between 2006 and 2007 and is currently completed and published online with detailed methodological explanations and results. General conclusions, comments, specific analysis, survey results and data are fully available in pdf format. Primary data sheet and questionnaires are provided by the CDSP. In 2007 the BPF activity concentrated on the French presidential and legislative elections. Along with academic analysis, detailed info on the elections, a bi-weekly press release on the major topics of French politics updated till the elections and links to external websites such as media press, parties and candidates, institutional and civil society blogs are provided. List of references as well as electoral maps by regions and districts are also available. Access to all this material is completely open and free and users can retrieve all desired record in pdf format. Data, analyses and webpages are in French only. The website content organization is clear and effective, ensuring an easy navigation.
Central Archive for Empirical Social Research
The online database of the German Zentralarchiv
The ZA archive, part of the GESIS organization (German Social Science Infrastructure Services, formed by many independent German research institutes) collects primary material and results of empirical studies and is one of the richest European databanks. The website, open and free for navigation and search, allows for direct access to information systems on social sciences, as well as to the methodological expertise of GESIS partner institutes. Providing access to several databases and ZA partners archive networks, the Zentralarchiv is accessible through different index and retrieval systems. Many relevant sources like SOLIS (a bibliographical database containing more than 370,000 publications with about 17,000 references added annually), SOFO, or FORIS are all present on the website. ZA materials not available online can be purchased via web and are delivered by mail. An online service makes ordering easier, enhanced through the downloading of data (though subject to usage and fee and charges regulations, applied for different types of users). The SocioGuide feature allows users to search social science resources by area studies or type of resource with advanced modalities. Often retrieved material is available in no other language than German.
Comparative Study of Electoral Systems
An international project for post-electoral data and surveys
The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) is a cross-national research program conducted in about 50 countries and focusing on the impact of elections on citizens and democracy. The website provides datasets consisting of post-election surveys ranging from macro-variables to district-level data and individual attitudes. Two modules of data collection are available (1996-2001 and 2001-2005). Through a free email subscription, users have access to detailed reports and surveys, research design as well as administered questionnaires in full-text format. For reading and using the entire dataset release, however, statistical softwares (SPSS, SAS or STATA) are necessary. Some short results and data elaboration (graphics and tables) are also provided with rich metadata info as well as detailed methodological explanantions on how to use the datasets and contribute to the data collection. A mirror site is hosted by GESIS (Germany). A fair amount of working papers, conference proceedings, journal articles and CSES presentations and planning reports are also provided. The sections dedicated to books, book chapters, dissertations are at an early stage: only few records are present, yet always with references and metainfo. The homepage of this clearly organized and easy-to-navigate website is available also in Spanish.
Country Indicators for Foreign Policy
A statistical databank for countries worldwide
Based on a 1991 prototype geopolitical database, the Country Indicators for Foreign Policy project represents an on-going effort to identify and assemble statistical information conveying the key features of the political, economic, social and cultural environments of countries around the world. Developed by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the current CIFP database includes statistical data related to such areas, in the form of over one hundred performance indicators for 196 countries, spanning fifteen years (1985 to 2000) for most indicators. In its fourth phase (aimed to further consolidation and development), the database provided at-a-glance global overviews, issue-based perspectives and country performance measures. The whole database is free of charge and open to the public, including country ranking tables for each topic and reports. A large list of related research links is available, covering worldwide institutions, universities and centers devoted to specific topics, from Conflict Analysis to International Development. Due to its user-friendly design, the CIFP database provides easy navigation and prompt access to its material.
Economic and Social Data Service
A UK data service on economic and social issues
The Economic and Social Data Service is a UK-based website providing access to a broad range of key economic and social data, both quantitative and qualitative, covering many disciplines and different topics. It comprises a number of specialized data services, providing an integrated service and support for the secondary use of data. The ESDS portal is a jointly-funded initiative sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and is divided in several areas: “Access and Preservation”, focusing on data acquisition and preservation; “International”, providing access to international macro and micro data sources; “Government”, facilitating the use of large-scale government surveys. It is based on a collaboration between four key centres of expertise: the UK Data Archive (UKDA) and the ISER at the University of Essex; the MIMAS and the CCSR at the University of Manchester. The website’s content is partially accessible for free (i.e. study description, questionnaires), while full access to all material in the specific areas and full records’retrievability in the archives requires an institutional affiliation. Search tools are simple but efficient, and results provide an abstract and a link to the original source. Navigation is helped by several help tools and by the remarkable usability of this website.
The public opinion analysis sector of the European Commission
As an initiative of the European Commission, the Eurobarometer (EB) monitors the evolution of the European public opinion by conducting in-depth surveys and analyses on topics concerning the European Union such as enlargement, social issues, health, culture, technology, EU institutions, environment, etc. This website provides periodical reports since 1973 as well as special issues, ad hoc surveys and qualitative studies along with detailed info on the adopted research methodologies. The main webpages, as well as the main reports, are available both in English and French, while standard EB national reports are retrievable in each EU language. Thanks to a free access policy, full-text publications are entirely downloadable in their original formats. The Eurobarometer’s extremely high density of contents matches a remarkable level of usability. An advanced search engine, providing a list of query operators and offering the possibility of restricting searches, is available. Charts and textual data files can also be elaborated by sorting by country, time, topic, and saved on-screen. The website shows a high updating rate. Some simple navigational tips support orientation, a list of faqs helps comprehension of the overall Eurobarometer project and a glossary explains a good number of keywords. Clear categories and content organization allow for an easy record location.
European Social Survey
Charts, data and analysis on EU institutions and its diverse populations
Initiated and seed-funded by the European Science Foundation (and now also by the European Commission and scientific bodies in the over 30 participating countries), the European Social Survey (ESS) provides bi-annual charts, data and surveys related to Europe’s changing institutions and behaviour patterns of its diverse populations. Managed by a professional team, the website provides several data files for each survey and a cumulative data file for the first five rounds of the ESS (last released on 28 March 2012), both as pdf and zipped files. In addition, the download areas hosts more than 220 pdf files, covering history & background, data archive documentation, training courses, and more. The top downloads are from the ESS Brochure (22,340) and Round 4 Questionnaire (15,880). To access the actual data files, however, a free registration is required. Other sections include ESS EduNet, a training resource mainly developed for use in higher education, includes small extracts from the complete ESS dataset on specific topics (Well-being, Country Level Data, Family, Gender and Work, etc.), and a bibliography with external publications based on ESS activities. With a simple and effective outline, the website has a keyword search in each page and more advanced features, as a news bullettin.
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
A US-based network of statistics databanks
The ICPSR is a networked organization established in 1962, led by the University of Michigan, and made up of a consortium of more than 700 institutions, mainly universities, but also research institutes, colleges and processing data firms, directed by a scientific committee. It offers more than 500,000 statistical files and 6,000 related abstracts concerning many social and political science topics all searchable by issues, links/categories and multiple keywords. A section of the website is dedicated to 8 institutional research projects, ranging from urban studies to migration. Eurobarometer research series are also retrievable especially those related to the EU candidate countries, starting from 2001. Non-subscribers can get broad and rich-in-content materials provided with detailed meta-info. Affiliation is reserved to institutional partners by subscribing a time-bounded license; however, some kind of customized pay-per-use form is available by contacting the staff. Even though navigation may not be always intuitive, the search engine is very powerful and well designed, based on multiple keys along with a detailed list of links organized by topics. A simple but effective design enables a successful navigation, while a RSS Feeds subscription for the project’s news announcement is available.