ESRA 2019 Programme at a Glance

Social Attitudes and Behaviour in a Continuous Global Perspective: The International Social Survey Programme 1

Session Organisers Ms Regina Jutz (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences )
Dr Evi Scholz (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences )
Professor Tom W. Smith (NORC at the University of Chicago)
Professor Christof Wolf (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences )
TimeWednesday 17th July, 14:00 - 15:00
Room D33

In an increasingly linked and interdependent world, it is essential to learn about and to understand the attitudes and behaviour of the population around the globe. While many comparative surveys are exclusively one-shot and one-topic initiatives, continuous global social surveys are the exception. The International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), which currently has 44 member countries, is one of the few large programmes and has been conducting annual monothematic surveys on topics such as the environment, health, national identity, religion or social networks since 1985. Cooperation within the ISSP is based on the idea of democratic structures and equal partners whose specific cultural and scientific experiences contribute to the benefit of the programme. Based on the aims of transparency and user-friendliness, ISSP data and documentations, e.g. on the data collection process and questionnaire development, are free of charge for all interested researchers. The ISSP is therefore a valuable resource for various research areas that use the ISSP data in comparative perspective. The successful implementation of a complex survey programme requires high methodological standards as a pre-requisite for reliable and valid data.
This session aims to promote the discourse and exchange of ideas between researchers who are involved in the provision of ISSP data and those who use ISSP data in survey methodology or substantive research. Researchers who do not yet know the ISSP will also benefit from this session. The session focuses on comparative aspects, both using an across time and international perspective.
We encourage submissions that examine methodological aspects of the ISSP, such as sample design, mode of data collection and mode effects, or data quality. With relation to the ISSP and other large scale international survey programmes, we are also interested in contributions on questionnaire development, testing and piloting and translation issues. We further welcome contributions that apply ISSP data in comparative analyses, with an emphasis on the most recently published ISSP modules.

Keywords: Comparative survey research, survey methodology, international, ISSP

Introduction to the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP)

Mrs Regina Jutz (GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences) - Presenting Author
Dr Evi Scholz (GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)

The International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) is a cross-national collaboration programme that has been conducting annual surveys on topics relevant for social science research for three decades. By 2018, the ISSP has carried out eleven different thematic modules, which are partially replicated every ten years. Some of the modules have been or will be conducted for the fifth time, such as the modules "Role of Government" and "Social Inequality". The partial replication of previous modules promotes cross-time comparisons, but offers enough leeway for new ideas and upcoming research topics. All modules are accompanied by a common core of background variables that include sociodemographic information of the respondent and technical variables such as weights and descriptions of data collection.
The presentation aims to introduce the ISSP both with basic information for the part of the audience not yet familiar with the ISSP and with insights for ISSP data users. We will present the organizational structure of the ISSP, such as the annual General Meeting, which decides by majority vote on the contents of ISSP questionnaires and ISSP related issues, the various working groups, the ISSP secretariat responsible for day-to-day business, which chairs the General Meeting, and the archive. The democratic form of organisation is ensured by the fact that all active ISSP members have equal rights during the decision-making process and in elections. ISSP specifics such as the collaboration of the Drafting Group and all ISSP members in developing an ISSP source questionnaire and the ex-post harmonized background variables are explained in more detail. In addition, we show where information on the ISSP data can be obtained, such as methodological reports on the annual studies and their national implementation.

A Comparison of Response Scales: The Case of ISSP and EASS

Dr Pei-shan Liao (Center for Survey Research, RCHSS, Academia Sinica) - Presenting Author

In cross-national/cross cultural surveys, questionnaire design is important to ensure measurement invariance, and which mainly include question wordings and response scales. The design of the response formats varies depending on the content of the questions, and may be attitudinal, factual, or behavioral. While researchers can modify the scales, for example the number of response category and associated labels, based on specific purposes. The response distributions may, in turn, change.

In internationally collaborated survey projects, such as ISSP, questionnaires are standardized so every participating country that conducts the same module uses the one and only source questionnaire. Surveys that focus on specific regions or countries, such as East Asian Social Survey (EASS) may have different concerns or preference for the design of response scales. For countries that collect data on the same question items for different survey projects, it is interesting to see their responses to different design of scales.

This study aims to understand the different designs of response scales and to compare their effects on an outcome variable. Data for this study are drawn from the 2011 ISSP and the 2010 EASS. Both datasets are on Health module and address the issues of health and health care. The datasets also cover the same countries that participated in both survey projects, including China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. General happiness, which is one of the item with different response scales, is used as the outcome variable. While other issues of survey methodology are not taken into account in this study, the findings are expect to encourage discussion on questionnaire design in cross-national/cross cultural research.

Mixed-Mode in the 2014 ISSP on Citizenship: A Comparison of Web and Paper Modes

Dr Gudbjorg Andrea Jonsdottir (University of Iceland) - Presenting Author
Dr Sanne Lund Clement (Aalborg University)
Dr Ditte Shamshiri-Petersen (Aalborg University)

The use of mixed-mode surveys has steadily increased in recent years, especially in countries with high internet penetration. The purpose of these mixed designs has been threefold: to improve population coverage, improve response rate and reduce survey costs. It is commonly held that web surveys have advantages over other data-collection modes with respect to faster data collection and lower overall costs – but also that these come at the expense of data quality. Web surveys are argued to produce more measurement errors than other modes because respondents lack the cognitive effort to answer the survey questions carefully. Low coverage and problematic sampling procedures in web surveys are claimed to increase these negative effects. Self-administered questionnaires, both paper and web questionnaires are accepted as valid modes of data collection by the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) making it an ideal vehicle for methodological experiments. This paper describes results from an experiment carried out in four countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway) in the 2014 ISSP module on Citizenship. Our results suggest that a negative “web-mode effect” does not exist, since web respondents are not shown to be more prone to satisficing than paper mode respondents nor is the data produced by that mode of lesser quality. Furthermore, our results show that in three out of the four countries, response rate was higher in the web-mode than in the paper-mode.