FAQ - Applying for data collection

Here you will find answers to the most important questions about data collection with the GESIS Panel.

Applying for a data collection

A survey data collection with the GESIS Panel is open to all researchers at universities and non-commercial research institutes in Germany and abroad. We welcome proposals from various social science fields, such as sociology, psychology, political science, economics, and criminology. The GESIS Panel does not accept commercial projects.

Data collection for student theses is only possible via the supervisor. However, the time frame from application to publication of the data must be considered. For this reason, data collection for such purposes is usually impractical. This also applies to data collection as part of teaching research projects.

For a data collection within the scope of a Regular Submission or a Short Submission, you will find detailed information on the application process as well as the corresponding forms on the respective pages. For data collection in the context of a (planned) third-party funded project or OPPA,  you should contact us at an early stage. We will be happy to provide you with a non-binding and individual offer.

We welcome proposals in English because our review procedure may involve international reviewers. Survey instruments may be submitted either in German or in English. However, because GESIS Panel surveys are fielded only in German, English instruments must be translated into German after positive peer review of the proposal. Translation costs must be borne by those submitting the proposal.

A data collection with the GESIS Panel in the context of a Regular Submission or a Short Submission is free of charge. A contribution to the costs of data collection is only necessary for data collection within the framework of planned or already funded third-party projects or for international comparative data collection within the framework of the Open Probability-based Panel Alliance (OPPA).

There are no submission deadlines for a data collection with the GESIS Panel (except for specific Calls for Submission), i.e., submitting is possible at any time. However, please note that a) the application process can take several months (especially in the case of a Regular Submission) and b) data publication currently needs about one year after survey completion. Therefore, data collection with the GESIS Panel should be planned well in advance.

Please note: Short Submissions may be fielded spontaneously under certain conditions (and the latest submitted three to four months before the start of the fielding period). Please contact us (info(at)gesis-panel(dot)org) if you have scheduling questions for the items of your short submission.

Planning the research design for your data collection

Please check our documentation, especially our codebook and study descriptions. There you can find all questions and items already included in the GESIS Panel.

You can collect both cross-sectional and longitudinal data with the GESIS Panel. In the case of a longitudinal (panel) study, the GESIS Panel Team will consider your wishes concerning the preferred period between the survey waves.

Experimental designs can be implemented in the context of a Regular Submission, a (planned) third-party funded project or a data collection within OPPA. In combination with a longitudinal design, experiments with constant or changing group membership over time are also possible. Please note, however, that due to the paper questionnaire no more than four experimental groups can be implemented.

The following demographic variables are collected: month and year of birth; citizenship; country of birth of the respondent; year of immigration; country of birth of the respondent's mother; country of birth of the respondent's father; marital status; if single/widowed: has a life partner/joint household with partner; school leaving certificate; intended school-leaving qualification; vocational training; university degree; employment status; labor force status; occupational group; number of children under 16 living in the household; income of the respondent; household income. Please check the questionnaire "Socio-Demographic Update" in our Longitudinal Core Studies.

The studies should refer to all respondents, i.e. the questions can be answered by all panelists. If your questions only address specific cohort or sub-samples (e.g. only employed persons), please contact us using our contact form before submission. We will decide on an individual basis whether we accept your submission.

Before submitting, please check our codebook to see if your question(s) has already been collected in the GESIS Panel. A replication of GESIS Panel items or a query of similar questions is possible. Please explain the benefits of replication in your submission.

Surveys on sensitive/very private topics (e.g., deviant behavior, sexuality) are not possible, as this could have a negative impact on the prospective willingness of our panelists to participate.

Designing your questionnaire

Unfortunately, the use of video or audio files is not possible, nor is recourse to more complex question formats (e.g. ranking questions). This is due to the fact that some of our panelists participate in GESIS Panel surveys with a paper questionnaire. Thus, the questions must be designed in such a way that they can be asked (and answered) easily in this mode as well. We can integrate images into the surveys under certain circumstances. We decide this on a case-by-case basis and against the background of compatibility with our questionnaire layout.

Randomization of questions or answer options is also not possible, as we cannot implement this in the paper questionnaire.

The maximum survey time for a Short Submission is one minute and for a Regular Submission five minutes. These limits refer to our time measurement, which we perform after the submission of your questionnaire. Please see the Short Submission page for a rough guide to our time measurement.

The GESIS Panel implements a mobile-first design in which all scales are arranged vertically. We also apply this design to the paper questionnaire. Among other things, this results in so-called matrix questions being converted into vertically arranged single-item questions. In addition, there are a number of other specifications regarding the design of our questionnaire. These are all presented in our GESIS Panel Style Guide. Please familiarize yourself with this document prior to your submission.

Since the population of the GESIS Panel is the German resident population aged at least 18 years, the data collection is conducted exclusively in German. However, for the documentation and international usability of the GESIS Panel, a translation of the questions into English is necessary. If you wish to use questions or scales that were originally developed (and tested) in English and for which a German translation is not yet available, we reserve the right to request a professional translation into German in individual cases.

Receiving your data

The preparation of the data from both survey modes, their documentation and archiving are time-consuming processes. Therefore, the publication of the data is currently expected approximately one year after the survey has been conducted. With the publication of your data, it will also be available to all other data users.

Provided that your application to use the Standard Edition or Extended Edition has been approved, you will not only receive the data from your survey, but all data that have been collected within the GESIS Panel since its introduction. This allows you to use a wide range of background variables for your analyses.

The GESIS Panel data are available via the GESIS Data Archive. Here you will find more detailed information about our data and data access.

Publishing with our data

Researchers are required to cite the data set they use in publications with the correct ZA version number and DOI. Here is an example citation for version 52.0.0 of both data sets:
GESIS (2024). GESIS Panel - Standard Edition. GESIS, Cologne. ZA5665 Data file Version 52.0.0, https://doi.org/10.4232/1.14285.
GESIS (2024). GESIS Panel - Extended Edition. GESIS, Cologne. ZA5664 Data file Version 52.0.0, https://doi.org/10.4232/1.14284.

If you have used data from our special SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus survey in your publication, please cite them as follows:
GESIS (2020). GESIS Panel Special Survey on the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak in Germany. GESIS Data Archive, Cologne. ZA5667 Data file Version 1.1.0, https://doi.org/10.4232/1.13520.

Additionally, please refer to the GESIS Panel reference paper in all publications that are based on the GESIS Panel data set:
Bosnjak, M., Dannwolf, T., Enderle, T., Schaurer, I., Struminskaya, B., Tanner, A., & Weyandt K. W. (2018). Establishing an Open Probability-Based Mixed-Mode Panel of the General Population in Germany: The GESIS Panel. Social Science Computer Review, 36(1), 103-115. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894439317697949

We obligate all users to inform us about their publications with GESIS Panel data in order to keep our GESIS Panel Bibliography complete and up to date.
The aim is to make all publications based on GESIS Panel data available in this bibliography.

Send us details about your publications with GESIS panel data to bibliography(at)gesis-panel(dot)org.

Please send us a message to info(at)gesis-panel(dot)org and we will assist you.