The Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and CONSIRT (Cross-National Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training Program, organized the international event, Longitudinal Survey Research: Methodological Challenges (December 15-18, 2015, Warsaw Poland). The conference “The Present and Future of Longitudinal Cross-sectional and Panel Survey Research” (December 15-16) was the first part of this event. It was followed by the workshop “Harmonization of Survey and Non-Survey Data” (December 17-18), which discussed possibilities of harmonizing ex-post survey data, also with information from non-survey sources.

The common theme of the Warsaw international event was methodological challenges in cross-sectional time series and panel surveys. These types of data have been crucial to generating key insights into the conditions, causes and consequences of social change. Ironically, the very change that social scientists examine – technological, economic, political and cultural – poses serious threats to traditional survey methods. New communication modes, declining response rates worldwide, the spectacular growth of big data from non-survey sources and their increasing popularity in the social sciences, constitute such threats. Survey administrators are forced to re-think their methods, from how to design surveys, contact respondents, and ask questions to how to analyze, store and distribute the data. Threats, however, are accompanied by opportunities. During the conference and workshop, we discussed how advances in both survey methods and communication/computational technologies, combined with the rise of interdisciplinary collaborative scientific teams and laboratories across the social sciences, can aid social science methodology and provide new substantive insights.

More detailed description:

  1. Conference: “The Present and Future of Longitudinal Cross-sectional and Panel Survey Research”

December 15-16, Palace Staszica, Nowy Swiat 72, Warsaw, Poland

The purpose of the conference was to engage established scholars, young researchers and graduate students from different countries and disciplines, in discussing the present and future of longitudinal surveys.

Day One of the conference featured two sessions, the first devoted to international cross-sectional surveys, and the other to panel surveys. Key questions included:

  1. What are the most troublesome methodological challenges that major cross-national longitudinal surveys face now, and in the next ten years? How can these challenges be met, and overcome?
  2. To improve data quality, should we standardize survey documentation across international survey projects, beginning with guidelines provided by the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI)? If so, how can this be achieved?
  3. What are the invited speakers’ visions of the future of survey methodology – from survey design to data access and storage –for the next wave, and for the next ten years?

Day Two of the conference was entitled, “POLPAN: Preparing for the First 30 Years,” and it focused on the Polish Panel Survey, POLPAN 1988 – 2013. POLPAN is the longest running panel survey, conducted on the national representative sample, in the world. A preparation for the 2018 wave just begins. Professor Kazimierz M. Slomczynski and Professor Zbigniew Sawinski, who have led POLPAN intellectually and methodologically over the decades, discussed how POLPAN addresses the difficult questions posed on Day One. Afterward, POLPAN researchers presented substantive analyses using POLPAN data, including the 2013 wave.

  1. Workshop: “Harmonization of Survey and Non-Survey Data”

December 17-18, 2015, Palace Staszica, Nowy Swiat 72, Warsaw, Poland

This workshop, open free of charge to established and young scholars and graduate students, was devoted to issues of ex-post harmonization of survey data in the context of the Harmonization and Survey Data Recycling projects.

The first day of the workshop focused on harmonization of longitudinal international survey projects. We discussed the concept of survey data recycling (SDR) as a new way of reprocessing information from extant cross-national projects in ways that minimize the “messiness” of data built into original surveys, expand the range of possible comparisons over time and across countries, and improve confidence in substantive results. The workshop highlighted various steps of SDR using examples of substantive target variables, which we had created using information from well-known international survey projects (e.g. WVS, ISSP, ESS, various regional barometers).

The second day of the workshop discussed the possibilities of harmonizing longitudinal survey data with the East European Parliamentarian and Candidate data (EAST PaC), with a focus on women’s political inequality. EAST PaC consists of all candidates who stood for national parliamentary elections in Poland, Hungary and Ukraine from the 1990s to the 2010s. Candidates are matched over time; this renders 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 span decades. We discussed internal harmonization of EAST PaC data and opportunities of using these data in POLPAN and other surveys in Poland, Hungary, and Ukraine. We went in-depth on a discussion on improving our knowledge, via survey data, on gender and values worldwide.


The event was held in the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, 72 Nowy Swiat, 00-330 Warsaw.


Organizers of the event:

Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

CONSIRT (Cross-National Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training Program)

Sources of funding:

Polish Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

[Polish] National Science Center, through the following grants:

  • Democratic Values and Protest Behavior: Data Harmonization, Measurement Comparability, and Multi-Level Modeling in Cross-National Perspective (2012/06/M/HS6/00322),
  • Polish Panel Survey, POLPAN 1988-2013: Social Structure and Mobility (2011/02/A/HS6/00238),
  • Who Wins and Who Loses in Parliamentary Elections? From Formal Theory to Empirical Analyses (2012/05/E/HS6/03556).


The program of the event is available here.