PSR Resources

Many resources for survey research exist in the Harvard community, and beyond. One of the goals of the PSR is to make these resources readily available to scholars in the Harvard community.

Guides to Survey Research

Different Harvard libraries have put together guides to survey and statistical data resources available to Harvard affiliates.

Managing and Manipulating Survey Data: A Beginners Guide

Responses from surveys don't get turned into numbers that can be analyzed without a bit of work. This guide is designed for beginning survey researchers and provides an overview of basic steps to transform survey questions into data that can be analyzed. This handout is used in some of our introductory courses and workshops.

Managing Survey Data41 KB

Finding and Hiring Survey Contractors

The PSR guide to finding and hiring survey contractors is based our practicum workshop.  It provides an overview of thinking about survey contracting, and suggestions for locating appropriate services.  Harvard afiliates can also contact the PSR for a more detailed assesment of outside service needs.

Hiring and Managing Survey Contractors35 KB

How to Frame and Explain the Survey Data Used in a Thesis

Surveys are a special research tool with strengths, weaknesses, and a language all of their own. There are many different steps to designing and conducting a survey, and survey researchers have specific ways of describing what they do.

This handout, based on an annual workshop offered by the Program on Survey Research at Harvard, is geared toward undergraduate honors thesis writers using survey data.

How to Frame and Explain Survey Data74 KB

Overview of Cognitive Testing and Questionnaire Evaluation

Cognitive tests, pilot tests, focus groups, and other tools can be used to understand how respondents interpret your questions and instructions, understand the meaning of survey questions, and to write better questions.  This type of testing can also evaluate different survey techniques used in the field to increase response or cooperation, and can help you sort out the meaning of survey responses.  These handouts are used in introductory lectures in our courses and workshops.

Cognitive Testing212 KB

Questionnaire Design Tip Sheet

This PSR Tip Sheet provides some basic tips about how to write good survey questions and design a good survey questionnaire.

PSR Questionnaire Tip Sheet40 KB

Sampling, Coverage, and Nonresponse Tip Sheet

This tip sheet will help you understand how to think the population that a survey represents.

PSR Tip Sheet: Sampling, Coverage, Nonresponse53 KB

PSR Survey Toolbox

These tips and tools can help you navigate the survey research process.

Introduction to Surveys for Honors Thesis Writers

This handout accompanied the April 17, 2009 presentation on surveys for honors thesis writers.

This workshop is designed to present a short introduction to survey research for undergraduate students considering using surveys in their honors theses or other research.  This workshop will provide a broad overview of the survey research process and focus on some of the unique aspects of survey data. We will also briefly look at sources for secondary survey data within Harvard and elsewhere, and provide a short introduction to writing survey questions.

Intro Surveys for Honors Theses, 2009903 KB

Managing and Manipulating Survey Data: A Beginners Guide

Responses from surveys don't get turned into numbers that can be analyzed without a bit of work.  This guide is designed for beginning survey researchers and provides an overview of basic steps to transform survey questions into data that can be analyzed.  This handout is used in some of our introductory courses and workshops.

Managing Survey Data41 KB

PSR Introduction to the Survey Process

This PSR Tip Sheet provides the basic language and terminology of survey research.

PSR Introduction to the Survey Process35 KB

Survey Research at Harvard

Related Centers/Programs at Harvard

Other centers and programs at Harvard often use survey data as the focus of research or programming.

National Bureau of Economic Research

The National Bureau of Economic Research is located in Cambridge.  In adition to providing extensive analysis of business and economic data, they operate the Boston area Census Research Data Center, which is available to qualified researchers. Link:

The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey

Provides details of the survey: questions asked, reports, survey methods, and affiliates.  Attempts to find the level of connectedness amongst members of American communities. Link:

The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in American

The Seminar is an ongoing initiative of Professor Robert D. Putnam at the Kennedy School of Government. The project focuses on expanding what we know about our levels of trust and community engagement and on developing strategies and efforts to increase this engagement. Link:

Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston

Attempts to improve Greater Boston's governance by connecting scholars, students, and civic leaders.  The Kennedy School has pursued this through promoting community service, producing new ideas, and creating open forums for discussion. Link:

The Institute for Quantitative Social Science

Foster development within the social sciences field; offer advanced statistical and analytical tools. Link:

The Institute of Politics Survey Group

Researches the fall and spring polls on student engagement and attitudes toward politics and public service. Link:

Harvard Opinion Research Program

Assesses people's attitudes with respect to their knowledge, values, and experiences.  Researchers within this program have contributed to over 300 surveys within the US and 15 other countries. Link:

Adapting Statistical Methods for Public Research

The goal of this project is to analyze some existing statistical methods in public health, import relevant ones from other fields, and develop new ones to facilitate the analysis of available data. Link:

General Survey Reference

General Survey Reference

  • Biemer, Paul P. and Lyberg, Lars E. Introduction to Survey Quality. Chichester, England: Wiley, 2003.
  • Fink, A., The Survey Research Handbook - How to Conduct Surveys: A Step-by-Step Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 1983.
  • Fowler, Floyd J., Jr. Survey Research Methods (2nd.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1993.
  • Groves, Robert M., F J Fowler, Mick P. Couper, James M. Lepkowski, Eleanor Singer, and R Tourangeau. Survey Methodology. New York, NY: Wiley. 2004.
  • Rossi, P., Wright, J., and Anderson, A. (eds.). Handbook of Survey Research. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1983.
  • Weisberg, Krosnick, Bowen. An Introduction to Survey Research, Polling, and Data Analysis (3rd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 1996.
  • Weisberg, Herbert. The Total Survey Error Approach: A Guide to the New Science of Survey Research. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2005

Questionnaire Design

  • Belson, William A. The Design and Understanding of Survey Questions. Aldershot, Hants, England: Gower, 1981.
  • Fowler, F.J. Jr. Improving Survey Questions: Design and Evaluation, Applied Social Research Methods Series Volume 38. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 1995.
  • Payne, Stanley. The Art of Asking Questions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 1980.
  • Schuman, H. and Presser, S. Questions and Answers in Attitude Surveys. New York, NY: Academic Press, 1981.
  • Sudman, S., & Bradburn, N. Asking questions: A practical guide to questionnaire design. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1982.

Survey Sampling/Survey Error

  • Cochran, William. Sampling Techniques. New York, NY: Wiley, 1977.
  • Fink, A. How to sample in surveys. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 1995.
  • Groves, Robert M. Survey Errors and Survey Costs (Wiley Series in Survey Methodology). Chichester, England: John Wiley and Sons, Ltd, 2004.
  • Groves, Robert M., et al. Survey Nonresponse (Wiley Series in Survey Methodology). Chichester, England: John Wiley and Sons, Ltd, 2001.
  • Henry, G. T. Practical sampling. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1990.
  • Kalton, G. An Introduction to Survey Sampling. SAGE Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA, 1983.
  • Kish, Leslie. Survey Sampling. New York, NY: Wiley-Interscience, New Ed edition January 20, 1995.
  • Lohr, Sharon. Sampling: Design and Analysis. Belmont, CA: Duxbury Press, 1999.
  • Lyberg, L., and Kasprzyk, D. Survey Measurement and Process Quality. New York, NY: Wiley, 1997.

Select Funding Opportunities

Survey Analysis Software

Survey Resources on the Web

Here you'll find an array of useful references throughout the web. If you know of additional web resources that you believe we should list here, please don't hesitate to contact us

Major Public Polls

Survey Data Collections

Major Longitudinal Surveys

  • United States Census Bureau
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.
  • Eurobarometer -- A series of surveys conducted among European countries.  Semi-annual surveys have been conducted since 1974, including some tracking questions on a variety of issues.  This link is to the Public Opinion Analysis office of the European Union.  Eurobarometer data are available through the ICPSR and other archives.
  • General Social Survey -- One of NORC's oldest landmark surveys, the General Social Survey has been administered 25 times since its initial fielding in 1972, with core funding from the National Science Foundation.
  • The Health and Retirement Study -- A longitudinal study of health, retirement, and aging, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.
  • National Center for Education Statistics -- The National Center for Education Statistics ( NCES ) collects, analyzes and makes available data related to education in the US and other nations.
  • National Center for Health Statistics -- Comprehensive information on births, deaths, aging, disease classification and other health statistics.
  • National Election Survey -- NES 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. Measures can be pooled over time, and both long-term trends and the political impact of historical events can be identified.
  • Panel Study of Income Dynamics -- The PSID is a longitudinal survey of a representative sample of US individuals and families, which has been ongoing since 1968.

Other Links