Summer 2017 Issue of Harmonization Newsletter Published

The Harmonization Project team, in coordination with Cross-national Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training program (, has published the latest issue of Harmonization: Newsletter on Survey Data Harmonization in the Social Sciences.

You can download and view the newsletter here.

The issue covers a variety of news on big data, harmonization, and data quality. The Harmonization Project published its data on Harvard’s Dataverse, and The Ohio State University opened the Translational Data Analytics Institute focused on big data. In the articles this newsletter features, Koen Beullens and colleagues summarize their European Social Survey data quality report, Verena Ortmanns and Silke Schneider present their latest research on cross-national harmonization of educational attainment variables, Kea Tijdens discusses measurement of occupations in multi-country surveys, Irina Tomescu-Dubrow and colleagues discuss metadata on survey quality, and Anna Turner argues for more and better sociological use of Google search data.

Posted in Newsletter

Survey Data Harmonization Team wins 4-year NSF grant

The Survey Data Harmonization Team led by Kazimierz M. Slomczynski, Irina Tomescu-Dubrow, and Craig Jenkins received a four-year, $1.4 million award from NSF for the project, “Survey Data Recycling: New Analytic Framework, Integrated Database and Tools for Cross-National Social, Behavioral and Economic Research” (SDR) starting September 1, 2017. The award will support the development of a harmonized database derived from more than 3,000 national surveys administered over five decades to more than 3.5 million respondents from more than 150 countries. The SDR enables innovative data-intensive research on major substantive topics of social science interest and advances the fields of comparative methodology and of survey-data harmonization.

Posted in Events

Conference and Workshop: Democracy, the State and Protest

Cross-national Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training program ( and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University organized a two-day event, “Democracy, the State and Protest: International Perspectives on Methods for the Study of Protest,” on May 11-12, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. The conference and workshop brought together scholars representing different approaches to the studies of protest behavior and democracy. Invited speakers presented their work on issues related to various aspects of the relationship between protest and democracy, with an emphasis on measurement and methodology. The program of the event, as well as speakers’ bios are available here.

Posted in Events

The Harmonized Dataset Published on Dataverse!

The SDR Master Box, including the harmonized survey data file, is now available for download via Dataverse. The SDR Master Box consists of five data files and corresponding documentation: (1) the master file (MASTER) with individual-level data from cross-national surveys, (2) country-level file (PLUG-COUNTRY), (3) country-year-level file (PLUG-COUNTRY-YEAR), (4) survey-level file (PLUG-SURVEY), and (5) wave-level file (PLUG-WAVE). The MASTER file is the core of the Master Box and contains harmonized target variables, harmonization control variables, as well as flags for non-unique records, non-unique case IDs, and missing case IDs, while the other PLUG files contain contextual data, metadata, and data quality indicators.

Posted in Events

Harmonize or Control? The Use of Multilevel Analysis to Analyze Trust in Institutions in the World

by Claire Durand, Isabelle Valois and Luis Patricio Peña Ibarra, Department of Sociology, University of Montreal

This article presents the current progress of a research project whose aim is to develop methods to analyze combined micro-data. The most recent papers that were presented (see references) give an insight into the work that has been accomplished to date.

This project was triggered by a preceding project where we aimed at analyzing change in support for Quebec sovereignty over time taking into account that question wordings and specific constitutional choices offered in survey questions varied over time and between surveys. We had identified close to 700 questions asked in polls over a 40-year period. In order to analyze these data, we used a multilevel model where polls were embedded within months. This allowed for analyzing the impact of question characteristics at level 1. Since time itself was at level 2, we could study change in support for sovereignty over time and the impact of events that occurred during each period controlling for question wording and constitutional choices (Yale & Durand, 2011).

This research ended with a frustration. We would have liked to be able to answer questions like whether the impact of age on support for sovereignty was fading over time. This requested combining micro-data, not just poll results. Therefore, we decided to combine data sets in order to be able to answer our research questions. However, instead of maintaining the focus on Quebec sovereignty, the focus was changed to institutional trust.

The first project is Valois’s Trust in Canada which involves combining survey data over a 40-year period; the second and third project started with the objective of combining all the surveys that had questions on trust in institutions everywhere in the world. One project is Durand et al.’s Trust in the World who combined the data from all the Barometers conducted outside Europe and the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) surveys; the other one is Peña Ibarra’s Trust in Latin America, which uses a subset of these data to focus on Central and South America plus Mexico. The basic information on the three projects is presented in Table 1.

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Posted in Harmonizing Survey Items, Newsletter, Statistical Analysis

Harmonizing Corruption Items in Cross-national Surveys

by Ilona Wysmułek, Graduate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Sciences

Corruption, given its secretive nature, is a phenomenon that is hard to capture in the interview situation.

In corruption research, surveys are among the major sources of our knowledge about the subject (Heath, Richards and de Graaf 2016; Karalashvili, Kraay and Murrell 2015).  However, there are several methodological challenges to studying cross-national trends in corruption with public opinion data. Corruption, given its secretive nature, is a phenomenon that is hard to capture in the interview situation. Some respondents are reluctant to answer sensitive questions and some may understand the concept differently than intended by researchers (Azfar and Murrell 2009; Bertrand and Mullainathan 2001). Moreover, international survey projects dealing with corruption continue to face challenges of unequal country representation. Estimation of rare event determinants also remains problematic, given that reported corruption instances are, for most modern democracies, highly infrequent.

To overcome some of these methodological problems, I apply ex-post harmonization of cross-national survey data in corruption research. In my dissertation project, I study corruption perception and individual corruption experience of giving informal payments (as a bribe or a gift) in public schools in Europe. I use cross-national survey data on corruption in public schools in Europe combined with country-level indicators, for example from the World Bank Education Statistics and OECD’s Education at a Glance. I follow the Survey Data Recycling (SDR) framework developed by the research team of Kazimierz M. Slomczynski, which provides a blueprint for ex-post survey data harmonization and for integrating surveys and other data sources (please see corruption project for more detailed information).

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Posted in Harmonizing Survey Items, Newsletter

Harmonizing Ethnic Minority Status in International Survey Projects

by Olena Oleksiyenko, Graduate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Sciences

This article focuses on issues of harmonizing information on ethnic minority status as part of a larger project on patterns of electoral and non-electoral political participation in post-soviet states. Specifically, I am interested in differences in political participation between a given country’s Russian-speaking minority and the majority population in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

There is no single international survey project that adequately covers all the former Soviet republics since the Soviet Union’s collapse, to current times. Even projects with the broadest country coverage, such as Life in Transition, do not allow for meaningful over-time comparisons. Hence, I selected, for purpose of ex-post harmonization, international projects that measure peoples’ electoral and non-electoral participation and ethnic identification in any of the post-soviet countries. Table 1 presents the list of the international survey projects I included, which taken together, span the period 1993- 2015.

Table 1. International Survey Projects with Relevant Data


Cross-national comparisons of ethnic groups are not as straightforward as it may seem, since in many cases the underlying concept of “minority group” is different in each state. The literature proposes different approaches to increase comparability of the concept. The “absolutist” approach suggests that only one marker of minority status should be taken into account, e.g. citizenship or language. The advantage of such a solution is conceptual clarity, but one can argue that the complexity of the minority status cannot be precisely studied with only one indicator. An alternative is the “relativist” approach to harmonization of items on minority status. This involves cross-classification of different ethnic referents to obtain a single, cross-nationally equivalent score on “ethnic minority status” (Lambert 2005). The problem with the “relativist” approach is the low availability of the same markers across all surveys.

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Posted in Ethnicity, Newsletter
The project “Survey Data Recycling: New Analytic Framework, Integrated Database, and Tools for Cross-national Social, Behavioral and Economic Research”, is a joint endeavour of the The Ohio State University and the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, funded by the National Science Foundation (PTE Federal award 1738502). The project runs from September 2017 to August 31, 2021.

The SDR project builds on the Survey Data Harmonization project funded by the Polish National Science Centre.