A National Data Program for the Social Sciences: The General Social Survey and International Social Survey Programme

Associate Name: Stephen L. Morgan

Funding Source/Period of the Grant: NSF 08/15/15-07/31/19


Stephen L. Morgan is one of two incoming faculty co-Principal Investigators for the NSF-funded project, The National Data Program for the Social Sciences: General Social Survey (NDPSS:GSS). The NDPSS:GSS is a social indicators, infrastructure, and data-diffusion program. It has four aims. It gathers data on American society to monitor and explain trends in attitudes, behaviors and attributes at both the aggregate and individual levels. It examines the structure and functioning of society in general and the role of various sub-groups. It provides comparisons between the United States and other nations in order to view American society in comparative perspective and to develop generalizable, cross-national models of human society. It makes high-quality data easily accessible to scholars, students, and others expeditiously and without charge.

These aims are accomplished by the regular collection and distribution of the General Social Survey (GSS) and its allied surveys in the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). Since 1972, the GSS and ISSP have been efficiently collected, widely distributed, and extensively analyzed by social scientists and others around the world. Over 25,000 research publications have utilized the GSS/ISSP and they have contributed to every field in the social sciences. For example, they have advanced understanding of cohort effects by examining intergenerational transferences in general and social mobility and studying intergenerational changes in education and knowledge. They have monitored changes in intergroup relations, gender roles, family structure and values, civil liberties and the impact of globalization on national identity. GSS/ISSP data are used in other science fields, such as environmental science, nanotechnology, polar science, computer/information science, and medical science and health. The GSS/ISSP data are also used extensively by government, non-profit organizations, and the mass media. In education, over 2,000 textbooks and teaching manuals utilize the GSS/ISSP and it is used annually by hundreds of thousands students.

The 2016 and 2018 GSSs and the four ISSP rounds (2015 through 2018) will continue the basic NDPSS:GSS mission, balancing replication to measure societal change with both methodological and substantive innovation in both the international and topical modules and follow-up studies. Extensions from past surveys and innovations are planned. They include: 1) extending the linkage of GSS cases to the National Death Index, 2) adding a new hypernetwork sample of employers, 3) making restricted GSS data more available via a secure data enclave, 4) enhancing the usability and functionality of the GSS website, 5) applying the multi-level, multi-source approach to data collection and analysis, 6) adding Internet-related modules on such areas as social-media use and Internet security/privacy issues, and 7) designing an extensive, rigorous experiment comparing an Internet GSS survey to the standard GSS. (from NSF)