A Probability-Based Mixed-Mode Access Panel
for the Social Sciences

General Overview

The GESIS Panel survey waves take place every two months; each survey takes about 20 minutes to complete. The surveys are conducted in two self-administered survey modes (online, offline). At the inception of the panel survey in February 2014, about 65% of the panelists participated online (Web-based survey) and about 35% of the panelists participated offline (by mail).

The sample comprises the German-speaking population aged between 18 and 70 years (at the time of recruitment) and permanently resident in Germany. Initially, panel members were recruited in face-to-face interviews followed by a self-administered profile survey. The participation mode (Web-based or mail) was chosen by the participants. All participants of the profile survey were considered as panel members and invited to take part in all regular waves. By the end of the recruitment phase in February 2014, the GESIS Panel comprised about 4900 panelists. In order to compensate for panel attrition, a refreshment sample was drawn from the German General Social Survey (ALLBUS) in 2016. This "second" cohort in the GESIS Panel includes respondents aged 18 and older. Now, the GESIS Panel comprises about 4700 panelists (November, 2017).

Each survey wave consists of two major parts: About fifteen minutes of survey time are reserved for studies submitted by external researchers (with a maximum length of five minutes per study). These studies undergo a peer-review process before fielding. The second part of each survey wave (also about five minutes of survey time) is reserved for longitudinal core study topics developed by GESIS.

One aim of the GESIS Panel Longitudinal Core Study is to measure frequently demanded characteristics beyond demographics, such as personality and human values, political behavior and orientations, well-being and quality of life, environmental attitudes and behavior, and information/communication technology usage. A second aim of the GESIS Panel Longitudinal Core Study is to assess and control for data quality by measuring concepts such as survey participation evaluations and survey mode habits and preferences, and by including selected items from other benchmark surveys (e.g., the German Microcensus, ESS, ALLBUS, ISSP).

When making the final decision to accept or refuse a proposal, the GESIS Panel Team has to balance various interests, responsibilities, and regulations, namely (a) legal regulations and ethical standards; (b) GESIS' responsibility to protect the integrity of panelists; (c) GESIS' interest in maintaining an unbiased panel (e.g., by avoiding panel attrition and differential drop-out likely to be induced by certain topics and experimental procedures); (d) the interest of the primary and secondary researchers in collecting and using survey data.

Accepted questionnaires are run free of charge, with the exception of funded research projects, which are required to cover part of the incentive costs. The GESIS Panel does not accept commercial projects. Should you have any doubts or questions as to whether your specific research project might cause conflicts between these interests, responsibilities, and regulations, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The GESIS Panel collaborates closely with comparable national and international projects, such as the German Internet Panel (GIP), located at the University of Mannheim, the LISS Panel, located at CentERdata in the Netherlands, and the ELIPSS Panel in France.