Research

Grants

Currently, CONSIRT co-manages two major grants:

– The project Survey Data Recycling: New Analytic Framework, Integrated Database, and Tools for Cross-national Social, Behavioral and Economic Research (SDR) was awarded a 4-year grant of 1,402,259 USD by the US National Science Foundation (2017-2021; PTE Federal award 1738502). Highlights of the SDR project include:

  • Individual-level harmonized measures of social capital, wellbeing, and political participation, and their main socio-demographic correlates derived from 24 international survey projects (over 3,000 national surveys) covering 3.5 million respondents in ca. 150 countries since 1966;
  • Metadata on source data quality and harmonization procedures;
  • Macro country-year measures of demographic, political, and economic variables;
  • Website interface for customized downloading, on-line analysis, and visualization;
  • Detailed documentation of the harmonization process, including computer code and guidelines for harmonizing survey variables of different kinds, for further expansion of the database.

For more on SDR, see the project website, DataHarmonization.org.

– The project Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time was awarded a multi-year grant (2017-2020) of ca. 210,000 USD by Poland’s National Science Centre. The purpose of the project is to advance the theory, methods, and empirical base for studying the dynamic relationship between political voice inequality and economic inequality. The core research questions are:

  • How and to what extent are the main components of political voice inequality related to each other once main features of political and economic institutions are accounted for?
  • At the macro-level, how and to what extent do political voice inequality and economic inequality influence each other?

This project will create the Political Inequality Database (POLINQ) with different measures of inequality of political voice constructed from harmonized survey and non-survey data for over 65 democratic countries from 1990 to 2015. With the organizational capacity and networks of CONSIRT, the project builds an international research team and an innovative infrastructure that relies on physical and virtual platforms to enable young and established scholars to produce high quality research and training products.

For more on political inequality, visit the project website, PoliticalInequality.org.

CONSIRT recently completed the following grants:

2012 – 2016 Democratic Values and Protest Behavior: Data Harmonization, Measurement Comparability, and Multi-level Modeling in Cross-National Perspective (Harmonization Project). This grant was awarded by Poland’s National Science Centre specifically for collaboration with the OSU Mershon Center for International Security Studies (grant no. 2012/06/M/HS6/00322; ca. 170,000 USD). The HCM database (cf. section Databases, p. 9) and corresponding documentation, available for free via Harvard’s Dataverse, are among the main outcomes of the Harmonization Project.

2013 – 2016 Who Wins and Who Loses in Parliamentarian Elections? From Formal Theory to Empirical Analysis was funded by Poland’s National Science Centre (ca. 100,000 USD; Sonata Bis grant no. 2012/05/E/HS6/03556) and involved resources for international cooperation, including the participation of OSU faculty, graduate students and alumni in workshops and joint research. Among its products is the East European Parliamentarian and Candidate dataset (EAST PaC). EAST PaC contains the near universe of candidates who ran for the national legislature in Poland, Hungary, and Ukraine and spans the 1990s to the 2010s (the Polish data go back to 1985). EAST PaC data, covering altogether three countries, 29 years, 23 elections, and 97,439 unique candidates, are freely and publicly available from Poland’s Social Data Archive.

2012 – 2016 Social Structure and Mobility: Polish Panel Survey, 1988-2013 was funded by Poland’s National Science Centre  and involved adding the 6th wave to the Polish Panel Survey POLPAN (grant no. 2011/02/A/HS6/00238; ca. 640,000 USD). POLPAN is the longest continuously run panel survey in Central and Eastern Europe that focuses on changes in social structure with individuals as the units of observation. This dataset offers the unique opportunity to assess the extent of within-person variation (i.e., change within people over time) in relation to the between-persons variation (i.e., differences between people over time) for a period spanning 25 years. Thus, it provides the necessary dynamic framework to properly understand the functioning of social structure – that is, how individuals influence social structure while being influenced by it. It had funds for international cooperation, including for participation of OSU faculty, graduate students and alumni in workshops and joint projects (polpan.org).

The CONSIRT network of faculty at OSU and IFiS PAN, and at other institutions around the world, obtained funding from the (US) National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, the American Council of Learned Societies, IREX, the Research Council of Norway, and Polish institutions: the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Committee for Scientific Research, and Poland’s National Science Centre. The OSU Mershon Center for International Security Studies, the OSU College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences have also supported CONSIRT projects. CONSIRT will continue to seek financial support, including at its founding institutions.

Publications

CONSIRT prioritizes international collaboration with OSU and PAN faculty, students, and alumni to produce high quality publications. Recently, projects supported by CONSIRT appeared in prestigious academic journals in sociology, political science, and economics, including: Current Sociology, Electoral Studies, European Sociological Review, International Journal of Sociology, International Review of the Sociology of Sport, Journal of Urban Affairs, Party Politics, Perspectives on European Politics and Societies, Polish Sociological Review, Survey Research Methods, Quality and Quantity, World Development.

Since 2013 CONSIRT prepared five special issues of the International Journal of Sociology. Working with some of our international partners, CONSIRT prepared a special issue of the leading Brazilian sociological journal, Sociologias (in Portuguese), as well as a special issue of a major sociological journal in Romania, Studia Sociologia. In addition, CONSIRT faculty and affiliates published many chapters in edited volumes.

CONSIRT administration and affiliates have also written several books in the last few years.

Survey Data Harmonization: Democratic Values and Protest Behavior: Harmonization of Data from International Survey Projects (Slomczynski, K. M, I. Tomescu-Dubrow, and J. C. Jenkins, with M. Kołczyńska, P. Powałko, I. Wysmułek, O. Oleksiyenko, M. W. Zieliński, and J. K. Dubrow. 2016. Warsaw, Poland. IFiS Publishers) details the logic of, and methodology for, creating the multi-year multi-country database needed for comparative research on political protest, which the Harmonization Project produced. The book concerns both the selection and ex-post harmonization of survey information and the manner in which the multilevel structured data can be used in substantive analyses. The book is available at dataharmonization.org.

Elections and Accountability: Towards Electoral Control in Central and Eastern Europe (Dubrow, J. K. and N. Palaguta, Eds., 2016. Warsaw, Poland. IFiS Publishers). In modern democracy, voters should be able to use elections to control parties and politicians. Citizens lose control when their electoral voice does not compel parties and politicians to act according to the will of the people. Repeated free and fair elections are supposed to function as a mechanism of electoral control. To evaluate electoral control, citizens need the right data on candidates, parties, and parliamentarians. This book presents the methodology of the East European Parliamentarian and Candidate dataset (EAST PaC). These data are the universe of candidates and parties who stood for national parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Poland, and Hungary from the 1990s to the 2010s. Candidates are matched over time, rendering a dataset that allows researchers to track the political careers of every candidate, from the thousands who never won to the few political lifers whose parliamentary careers are decades long. With EAST PaC, scholars can achieve new insights into electoral politics of Central and Eastern Europe. The book is available at the project website, electoralcontrol.org.

Inequality in the Social Structure: Dynamics of Social Structure: Poland’s Transformative Years, 1988–2013 (Slomczynski, K. M and I. Tomescu-Dubrow, with D.  Życzyńska-Ciołek and I. Wysmułek) and Social Inequality and the Life Course: Poland’s Transformative Years, 1988–2013 (Slomczynski, K. M and I. Wysmułek) were published in 2016 (Warsaw, Poland: IFiS Publishers). These two books, whose empirical foundation is the Polish Panel Survey 1988-2013, complement each other. They explore main social and economic phenomena that, across nations, are fundamental to transformations of the social structure: labor market processes, precarity, processes, mechanisms and consequences of inequality, and perceptions of attainment and of resource allocation. They also deal with core issues of political sociology, such as voting representation and political attitudes and knowledge. The idea of dynamic social structure implies that structures are changeable and produce tensions and conflict between people, groups, and institutions. The case of Poland demonstrates that social and economic phenomena related to the labor market remain major stratifying forces.  Both volumes are freely available to the public at polpan.org.

Political Inequality in an Age of Democracy: Cross-national Perspectives (Dubrow, J. K. Ed., 2014. London: Routledge). Political inequality – as structured differences in the influence over decisions made by political bodies and the outcomes of those decisions – is felt most acutely by the disadvantaged who remain outsiders to the political system they help to legitimize and whose interests are chronically underrepresented. Governments at all levels are places where access to political power is constrained and where benefits are allocated unequally. This book builds on previous work (e.g. APSA Task Force in 2004 on inequality and American democracy and Dahl’s On Political Equality) to address the present and future of the concept of political inequality from multi-disciplinary and cross-national perspectives. It is comprised of nine theoretical, methodological, and empirical chapters by both established and young, up-and-coming social scientists, including from Latin America, Eastern Europe, Greece, and the U.S.

Prior to 2013, OSU and PAN students and alumni published two books on international politics – National and European? Polish Political Elite in Comparative Perspective (edited by W. Wesolowski, K. M. Slomczynski and J. K. Dubrow, 2010, Warsaw: IFiS Publishers), and Tożsamość, Zaufanie, Integracja (Identity, Trust, Integration, edited by W. Wesolowski and K. M. Slomczynski, 2012, Warsaw: IFiS Publishers).

The Ohio State University and Polish Academy of Sciences co-Publish Ask: Research and Methods

In 2017, CONSIRT facilitated the renewal of an agreement between The Ohio State University and the Polish Academy of Sciences to co-publish Ask: Research and Methods, an English language, international peer-reviewed social science methodology journal. Published annually since 1995 by IFiS PAN and indexed in leading bibliographic research databases, via the new agreement with OSU and a grant from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Ask: Research and Methods (askresearchandmethods.org) has become an open access journal. OSU alumni involved with CONSIRT are on the editorial staff and editorial board. Graduate students from OSU and Poland work under the guidance of CONSIRT faculty as assistants in the process of academic publishing in the social sciences. ASK published leading methodologists from Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA, among others.

Harmonization: Newsletter on Survey Data Harmonization in the Social Sciences

Survey data harmonization and big data are innovative forces that are leading to new, emergent, and interdisciplinary knowledge across the social sciences. The purposes of the Harmonization newsletter (consirt.osu.edu/newsletter/ ISSN 2392-0858), which appears bi-annually since 2015, are to share news and communicate with the growing community of scholars, institutions and government agencies who work on harmonizing social survey data and other projects with similar focus.

We pay special attention to the methodology of survey data harmonization. We intend for this newsletter to contribute to the development of international research and standards on methodological issues such as data comparability, data quality, proper data documentation, and data storage and access, as well as analytic procedures that can contend with the demands of harmonized data.

Standards for Cross-National Research

CONSIRT promotes high quality standards for interdisciplinary cross-national research. To this end, CONSIRT is developing methodology and guidelines on issues that matter to researchers, professionals in governmental and non-governmental institutions, and funding agencies:

  • Increasing the effective and efficient use of extant cross-national survey and non-survey data
  • Standardizing the documentation of cross-national studies.

In the field of quantitative comparative research, CONSIRT is doing groundbreaking work in developing a new theoretical approach and corresponding methodology for increasing the effective use of extant cross-national data. This work, initiated in the Harmonization Project and continued in the SDR project, has important implications for the standardization of international survey projects’ documentation.

Our key idea is “data recycling.” In short, data recycling involves both the process of controlling for project-specific limitations of data quality by constructing control indicators for the quality of the source data and the process of expanding data coverage – in terms of time, space, number of observations, and types of indicators – via ex-post survey data harmonization. Separate control indicators for transformations of source variables as part of harmonization facilitate validity and reliability assessments of the target variables. A target variable is the harmonized common variable produced from variables pooled from surveys not a priori designed as comparable.

Survey quality controls and controls of the process of harmonization constitute two types of metadata that enable researchers to contend with basic methodological biases and errors of survey data in substantive analyses. Rather than disregarding, as some ex-post harmonization efforts do, projects that may be weaker on quality but very strong in terms of country and or/topic coverage, or “older” projects conducted before current standards were adopted, users can include the metadata in regression analyses to partial out their effects, thus “recycling” data of varying quality.

Alternatively, researchers could use the metadata as “filters,” that is, to select those datasets and items that best fit their research and data requirements. Another possibility is to use the control variables to construct weights for survey ‘importance’ so that information from high-quality surveys will carry more weight on the substantive results.

The survey data recycling (SDR) analytic framework has implications for survey documentation standardization.

Poorly documented data reduce user confidence, while inconsistencies between codebook and technical reports on one hand, and the data records in the computer files, on the other, make the data difficult to use. While evaluating the general documentation – study descriptions and technical reports – corresponding to the 1,721 national surveys of the 22 cross-national studies in the Harmonization Project database, we found that projects differ substantially in how transparent and accurate the descriptions of survey design and implementation, and of data coding, are.

The SDR schema of coding survey quality as reflected in the general documentation includes survey implementation stages that are key for ensuring high quality of the resulting data, such as type of the sample, details of the sample, response rate, control of the quality of the questionnaire translation, questionnaire pretesting, and fieldwork control. Administrators of on-going international survey projects and archiving institutions can rely on SDR guidelines and templates that follow Data Documentation Initiative standards (www.ddialliance.org) to produce consistent documentation of specific elements of survey implementation.

Databases

CONSIRT deals extensively with data relevant for cross-national and longitudinal studies. This involves both reprocessing extant survey and non-survey data into new databases, and new data collection. Below are contributions since 2013.

Our flagships for creating integrated databases using existing information are the recently completed Harmonization Project and the new NSF-funded SDR project. Substantively, these studies tap into the wide interest that scholars and policy makers have in the relations between social capital and wellbeing, social capital and political participation, and democracy and political participation. Methodologically, they build on the observation that social scientists have free, public access to a wealth of international survey projects, yet they encounter difficulties in doing comparative analyses because most of the data are restricted to a particular area of the world and to given time periods. The data are often not comparable or even sufficiently documented.

The publicly available HCM database, which the Harmonization Project built, sets the groundwork for the SDR database. It contains harmonized individual-level measures of political behavior, social attitudes, and demographics, metadata for the quality of the source data and for harmonization procedures, and economic, social and political macro indicators. It is a relational database whose core is the MASTER file with harmonized survey data pooled from 22 international projects. Additional files (tables) contain information describing the survey process and metadata for source data quality, and contextual data from publicly available sources (e.g., GDP). These additional data are stored in Plug-files, linked to the Master file by one or more key variables in the form of one-to-many merges.

The SDR database will provide individual-level harmonized measures of social capital, wellbeing, and political participation, their main socio-demographic correlates, together with metadata as variables describing both source data quality and harmonization procedures, derived from 3,112 national surveys from 24 international studies, including the World Values Survey, the International Social Survey Programme, the European Social Survey, and Eurobarometer and its regional editions, among others. Harmonized information will be available for more than 3.5 million people interviewed in ca. 150 countries and different years since 1966. Demographic, political, and economic macro variables for all country-years will complement the individual-level measures.

CONSIRT provides access to unique datasets on political elites in countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The East European Parliamentarian and Candidate data (EAST PaC), collected during a recent Poland NCN grant, contains the near universe of candidates who ran for the national legislature in Poland, Hungary, and Ukraine and spans the 1990s to the 2010s (the Polish data go back to 1985). The data cover altogether three countries, 29 years, 23 elections, and 97,439 unique candidates. The structure of EAST PaC is similar to that of panel data. Data are matched over time, meaning that the same candidate can be identified whenever they appear across successive elections. For details, see electoralcontrol.org/east-pac-data/. EAST PaC is freely and publicly available from Poland’s Social Data Archive.

The Political Inequality Database (POLINQ) database represents a future major product of the project Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time (funded by the National Science Centre of Poland). POLINQ combines two types of data. The first are survey data containing individual-level indicators of political participation and support for political parties. They feature substantial coverage of varying types of modern democratic countries to provide variation in the degree of institutional efficiency and measurement points (i.e. national survey years) in order to gauge social and political change since the 1990s. The second type contains theoretically-informed characteristics of countries from sources such as the Standardized World Income Inequality Database.

The Polish Panel Survey 1988-2013, POLPAN, represents a foundational data source for CONSIRT. POLPAN is conducted every five years since 1988 with adult residents of Poland, using face-to-face interviews. The initial survey, conducted during State Socialism, had a national sample of 5,817 Poles aged 21-65 years. In 1993, this sample was randomly reduced to 2,500 individuals, of whom 2,259 were successfully interviewed. In each of the consecutive five-year waves the goal was to reach the core panel. To ensure an adequate age balance, since 1998 the core panel is being supplemented with additional subsamples involving young cohorts. The 2018 survey round is in preparation. The 1988-2013 data are available free of costs from the project administrators (polpan.org).

POLPAN has drawn the attention of both faculty and students, who have been actively involved at various stages of its planning and implementation. Many former and current OSU and PAN graduate students are among participants of conferences, workshops, and seminars held in Warsaw and in Columbus, and devoted to the design and analysis of longitudinal panel data.

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