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Survey Data Harmonisation 1

Coordinator 1Dr Ruxandra Comanaru (European Social Survey, City University, London UK)
Coordinator 2Ms Daniela Negoita (European Values Study, Tilburg University, The Netherlands)

Session Details

The harmonisation of survey data has been a burgeoning research strand within social sciences over the last few years. Harmonisation has at its core the attempt to make data more comparable, allowing for data linkage and analysis of distinct datasets that were not initially meant to be assessed together. Sound methodology in data harmonisation allows comparisons and harmonisation of instruments ahead of the data collection. as well as evaluations of data from various sources that were not initially meant to be compared. As such, survey data can be harmonised ex-ante (during their design or after fieldwork before issuing the collected data) or ex-post (combining surveys not meant to be compared at the point of data collection). Some countries have made concerted efforts to harmonise instruments at the point of data collection (ex-ante), such that, for example, the wellbeing of the nation can be tracked in all national statistics surveys, pushing for the same measures to be used regularly to assess the same concepts. The latter approach to data harmonisation (i.e., ex-post) has been used to attempt to tease out insights from sources not designed to be compared a priori. The SUSTAIN 2 (WP2, Task 1) project, for example, tried to bridge data from two long-standing surveys in the European social science context: the European Values Study (EVS) and the European Social Survey (ESS). It aimed to harmonise their data over several decades in order to allow cross-survey and cross-national comparisons, and thus to link measures that have conceptual, and potentially statistical, overlap.
This session, which aims at offering practical prompts for future venues for cooperation between surveys, invites contributions on all aspects and challenges of data harmonisation: data collection mode, sampling design, translation method, and measurement instruments.