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RESEARCH HELP > RESEARCH QUICK START GUIDES

Research Quick Start Guides

Public Opinion

The analyst of public opinion must begin then, by recognizing the triangular relationship between the scene of action, the human picture of that scene, and the human response to that picture working itself out upon the scene of action. It is like a play suggested to the actors by their own experience, in which the plot is transacted in the real lives of the actors, and not merely in their stage parts.

Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion(1922)


Table of Contents

  1. Sources for Questions and Response Data
    A. Survey Information in Printed Format
    B. Archive of U.S. Public Opinion Surveys in Microform
    C. Opinion Data via Computer
  2. Annotated Reference Sources
  3. Selected Periodical Sources
  4. Perspectives
  5. Browsing Tips & Further Information

1. Sources for Questions and Response Data

A. Survey Information in Printed Format.

(1) International

Index to International Public Opinion. Annual. 1978/79 - . New York: Greenwood Press. Green Ref HM261.I5
Includes data from single-nation surveys by subject, multinational surveys by region, and world surveys by subject. Indexes by topic, country/region conducting survey, and country/area covered in survey. Also includes a lengthy list of contributors (with addresses) convenient for identifying public opinion research centers abroad.

World Opinion Update: A Monthly Summary of Opinion on Issues of International Importance. 1977- . Williamstown, MA: Survey Research Consultants International. Green Ref HM261.W6
Monthly issues average about 10-12 pages and include selected questions, responses (with percentages), and source information. Up to date. Subject and country indexes at back of annual volumes.

Public Opinion, 1935-1946. Under the editorial direction of Hadley Cantril, prepared by Mildred Strunk. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951. Green Ref (also in Stacks) HM261.P79
Arranged by topics in alphabetical order. No index, but Table of Contents includes cross-references. Polls from U.S. and foreign countries. Questions and responses given but not population/sample size. Provides "date line" entries (e.g. US July '42 or Germany May 8, '46), and survey organizations are identified in parentheses.

The International Gallup Polls: Public Opinion 1978. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1980. Green Ref HM261.G276
Somewhat like Public Opinion, 1935-1946 (above), this book is organized by topics arranged alphabetically--topics such as Energy, Censorship, Labor, Health Care, Political Parties, and Religion. Contains selected findings of thirty-five member companies of Gallup International from November 1977 through December 1978. There is a 107-page Index at the back of this volume.

(2) United States

NORC Bibliography of Publications, 1941-1991: A Fifty Year Cumulation. Compiled by Patrick Bova and Michael P. Worley. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center, 1991. Green Ref Z7164.S667N37 1991
This bibliography supersedes all previous NORC bibliographies. It also includes NORC staff writings on intramural projects. General Index (name, subject, title, key words, sponsor) and separate Project and Author indexes.

The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion. Annual. 1978- . Wilmington: Scholarly Resources. Green Ref HN90 P8 G34
A primary source for surveys of the U.S. adult population, with standard sampling (typically 1000 interviews) adaptable to longitudinal comparisons. Each volume is indexed, response data are included and cross-tabulated (percentages provided), and question dates and demographic information are given. Notes and analysis are added by Gallup staff. For pre-1978, see next two entries (below)

The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion. 2 Vols. 1972-1977. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1978. Green Ref HN90.P8G32.
Shelved with the succeeding annual volumes (above) and similar in contents. Index for the set in Volume 2.

The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion. 3 Vols. 1935-1971. New York: Random House, 1972. Green Ref HN90.P8G3
Shelved with the succeeding set (above) and similar in contents. Index for the set in Volume 3.

California Opinion Index. 1980- . San Francisco: Field Institute. Green Ref Desk HM261 C26
A news release service, irregular. No index. Each issue focuses on a topic, such as "Major Issues Facing the State" (August 1994), "Immigration" (June 94) and "Fear of Crime and Accessibility of Guns" (March 1994). Includes tables and survey descriptions
NOTE: for the most comprehensive source of U.S. public opinion data, use the printed guide American Public Opinion Index in Green reference, and follow guidelines in section B.

(3) Europe.

Eurobarometer: Public Opinion in the European Community. Semiannual. July, 1974 - . Plus, Eurobarometer Trends. Annual. 1990- . Brussels: Commission of the European Community. Hoover Institution Library's Government Documents--International section.
Current year's issues in Hoover Library current periodicals (shelved downstairs with the E.C. depository documents), back issues via request card paged by library staff. Reports surveys based on identical sets of questions to representative samples of the populations aged fifteen and over in each member state. The standard sample is 1000 from each country (including now 1000 from the former GDR and 1000 from the former FRG). Surveys conducted since 1973, including Greece since 1980, Portugal & Spain since 1985, and the forber German Democratic Republic since 1990. Since 1990, Eurobarometer Trends is published once a year, presenting 27 variable trends on awareness and impressions of the Commission, the Single European Market, and the European Social Charter. The 1991 issue reports trends from 1974 to 1990.

The Gallup International Public Opinion Polls: Great Britain 1937-1975. 2 Vols. George H. Gallup, General Editor. New York: Random House, 1976. Green Ref HN400.P8G34
Arranged by year, subdivided topically. Questions and responses.

The Gallup International Public Opinion Polls: France 1939, 1944-1975. 2 Vols. George H. Gallup, General Editor. New York: Random House, 1976. Green Ref HN400.P8G35
Arrangement of contents similar to set for Great Britain (above).

B. Archive of U.S. Public Opinion Surveys in Microform

American Public Opinion Index. Annual. 1981- . Louisville: Opinion Research Service. Green Ref HM261 A463
With the companion microfiche data (below), this is the most comprehensive resource--covering more than 170 sources of polling information--for public opinion in the U.S. Each year is in two parts: Section I is an alphabetical list of topics and personal names, with poll code and date referring to Section II, which gives source, sample size, survey method, geographical universe, and topic information. A major tool for public opinion research. Note: since 1988, the index for each year is in two volumes, with Section II towards the end of Vol. II.

American Public Opinion Data. 1981- . Louisville: Opinion Research Service. Green Microfiche # 757.
Contains complete response data for surveys by many different national and regional organizations in the U.S. This is a microfiche collection--in Current Periodicals & Microtext (CPM)--to be accessed by use of the American Public Opinion Index (see above), and using the procedure described below.
Procedure: use the above-cited APO index in Reference to identify relevant surveys and write down poll code(s) and date(s). To access responses, go to CPM and give the desk person (who will page the fiche) the MFICHE no. 757 plus the year, citation and date (if any) information.

C. Opinion Data via Computer

POLL -- Public Opinion Locating Library. Online Database. Storrs, CT: Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.
Available via Social Science Data and Software and Academic Universe version of Lexis-Nexis. Instructions for searching the Roper Public Opinion Online file using Academic Universe: 1) Select Reference, 2) Then select Polls and Surveys, 3) Search form is automatically customized for searching the Public Opinion database.
This database contains the texts of more than 120,000 questions asked in over 3000 polls conducted over several decades by leading national and regional polling agencies and archived by the Roper Center. Represents more than 70 survey organizations, including ABC/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, Gallup, Louis Harris, NBC/Wall Street Journal, the Roper Organization, and Yankelovich et al. Searches (by arrangement with reference staff) are made using subject indexing terms, words used in the questions, interview dates, and names of survey organizations. Results include the text of questions, response frequencies, and complete source information.
ICPSR and other data sets supported by Social Science Data and Software.
Among the major U.S. collections are decades of the American National Election Studies, General Social Surveys, Panel Survey of Income Dynamics, Consumer Expenditure Surveys, Current Population Surveys, and the National Longitudinal Surveys, among others, as well as foreign collections such as the Eurobarometers. Any dataset not already at Stanford (i.e., in Socrates) may be ordered.

2. Annotated Reference Sources

An American Profile: Opinions and Behavior, 1972-1989. Edited by Flora W. Wood. Detroit: Gale, 1990. Green Ref HM261.A85 1990
Contains "opinion results on 300 high-interest issues derived from the General Social Survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center." Provides data and tables on the following: demographics on topics such as family, household, employment and community; opinions on topics such as personal condition, family matters, religion, politics, race, abortion, national issues and crime; and behavior on topics such as social habits, religion, voting behavior and crime. Excellent source of tables profiling American opinions over time.

Gilbert, Dennis A. Compendium of American Public Opinion. New York: Facts on File, 1988. Green Ref HN90.P8G56 1988
Stated "purpose of this book is to make polling information readily accessible to everyone from the novice to the expert." Coverage includes scientifically-designed polls in newspaper stories, journal articles, reports, press releases and broadcasts on 20 broad topics such as Education, Family, Government, Health, Media, Women and Work. Each topic receives about twenty pages summarizing polling results and includes graphs.

Walden, Graham R. Public Opinion Polls and Survey Research: Selective Annotated Bibliography of U.S. Guides and Studies from the 1980's. New York: Garland, 1990. Green Ref Z7164.P956W34 1990
Annotated bibliographies (from last ten years only) on topics such as measurement & scaling, questions, sampling, interviewing, responses, statistical analysis, and results.

United States. Bureau of the Census. Statistical Abstract of the United States. Annual Washington: GPO. Green Reference Desk (& other locations) HA202.A483
A widely used standard source from the U.S. Census Bureau. In relation to polls, very useful for demographic and economic statistics about the U.S. population. Topical sections generally comparable to Historical Statistics of the United States (below).

United States. Bureau of the Census. Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970. 2 Vols. Washington: GPO, 1975. Green Ref Ready Reference Table (& other locations) HA202.B87 1975
Another major statistical source from the Census Bureau. Includes sections on Population, Vital Statistics, Health, Medical Care, Migration, Labor, Social Statistics, Energy, Transportation, and National Income and Wealth. Subject Index and Time-Period Index.

United States. Bureau of the Census. Social Indicators III: Selected Data and Social Conditions and Trends in the United States. Washington: GPO, 1980. Green Ref (& other locations) HN60.S59
Tables, graphs and charts in color for major topics, such as Population & the Family, Health & Nutrition, Work, Transportation, and Social Participation.

3. Selected Periodical Sources

A. Commentary and Trend Analysis

Gallup Poll Monthly. Continues Gallup Report (1981-89) and Gallup Opinion Index (1965-81) . Vol. 1 (1965) - . Princeton: Gallup Poll. Green Ref HM261.A1G3 (Also in Hoover)
Current issues at Reference Desk. This monthly report highlights results of surveys on current affairs and provides graphs of survey trends based on analysis of responses across topics and over time. Shelved with this set is The Gallup Poll Monthly Index, 1965-1990.

The Public Perspective. Bimonthly. Vol. 1 (1989) - . Storrs. CT: Roper Center. Green Ref HM261.P88, latest issues at Ref Desk
Subtitled "a Roper Center Review of Public Opinion and Polling," this publication includes feature articles and interviews together with a 20-30 page insert "Public Opinion and Demographic Report." Excellent source of opinion on current U.S. public policy issues.

The American Enterprise. Bimonthly. Vol. 1 (1990) - . Washington: American Enterprise Institute. Green stacks JX1.A44, current year in Green Current Periodicals. (Also in Green Reference, and in the Engineering Library)
With the change from its former title, Public Opinion (see below), this magazine features articles with more commentary than public opinion but it also includes the same supplement (from the Roper Organization) that appears in The Public Perspective (listed above).

Public Opinion. Vol. 1-12 (1978-1989). Washington: AEI. Green Ref HM261
(Continued by The American Enterprise)

The Polling Report. Two issues each month. [Vol. 1 (1985)] Washington, D.C.: The Polling Report [Matthew McWilliams, Thomas H. Silver]. Green Library stacks HM261.P578, latest issues in Current Periodicals.
On masthead: "An independent survey of trends affecting elections, government and business." Issues are normally 8 pages in length, plus supplements, containing excerpts from polls and articles on opinion trends.

Survey Research. Quarterly newsletter. Vol. 1 (1969) - . Urbana, IL: Survey Research Laboratory (Univ. of Illinois). Green Library stacks HN29.S7, latest issues in Current Periodicals.
Newsletter supported by institutional patrons (e.g. Institute for Survey Research [Temple Univ.], Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics, National Opinion Research Center, RAND, Section of Survey Research Methods [American Statistical Association], Survey Research Center [Univ. of Michigan]). Discusses current research, posts announcements (including jobs), and reports hew publications.

B. General Indexes, Newspapers, and Research Journals

PAIS International in Print. Vol. 1 (1914) - . New York: Public Affairs Information Service. Green Ref Z7163.P3 (Table 7).
Available electronically via Folio.

Sociological Abstracts. Vol. 1 (1952) - . San Diego: Sociological Abstracts, Inc. Green Ref HM1.S67 (Table 12).
Available electronically via Folio..

American Statistics Index. 1973- Washington, D.C.: Congressional Information Service. Government Documents HA214.A4
Available via Folio in the Statistical Masterfile

Statistical Reference Index. 1980- . Washington, D.C.: C.I.S. Government Documents Z7554.U5573
Available via Folio in the Statistical Masterfile

The Los Angeles Times Index. 1965- . Ann Arbor: UMI. Green Ref AI21.L65L6
Useful headings in this Index are "Polls" and "Public Opinion."

The New York Times Index. 1851- . New York: New York Times Co. Green Ref AI21.N44
See note below.

The Official Washington Post Index. 1972- . Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International. Green Ref AI21.W3045
Note: the above two national dailies, and other U.S. newspapers can be searched electronically via Socrates in the Melvyl catalog's "News" file--current from 1987. Also, the "Mags" file on Melvyl provides searching in the magazine index, covering the last five years. Stanford faculty and students with current id can search many more newspapers using the Nexis database via Folio.

Public Opinion Quarterly. Vol. 1 (1937) - . New York: Elsevier. Green HM261.A1 P8

International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Vol. 1 (1989) - . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Green HM261.I57

4. Perspectives

John Zaller, The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Kurt Lang, "Public Opinion," in the Encyclopedia of Sociology. Edited by Edgar F. Borgatta and Marie L. Borgatta. New York: Macmillan, 1992. Vol. 3, pp. 1565-1571. Green and Green Ref HM17.E5 1992

Paul M. Sniderman, Richard A. Brody, et al. Reasoning and Choice: Explorations in Political Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Green HN90.P8R43 1991
The authors (including the two lead authors who are professor and professor emeritus, respectively, at Stanford) develop an account of how people reason about political choices. Based on research using different samples and different kinds of variables, the authors address a variety of analytic issues (reasoning, persuasability, values) that result in a convergent account of reasoning and choice.

Daniel Yankelovich. Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1991. Green HN90.P8Y36 1991
Yankelovich heads a major polling agency. His book focuses on the problematic connection between the public, as the source of opinions, and leaders, who shape and respond to public opinion. The connection is in trouble because of a tendency, especially in America, for leaders to rely (increasingly) on the specialized knowledge of experts--the "Culture of Technical Control," thereby sapping the national will. Leaders, he says, are forfeiting the opportunity (and responsibility) to facilitate movement from mass opinion towards public judgment, which is essential for democracy to work. Yankelovich offers ten rules for resolution of this problem.

Eurobarometer: The Dynamics of European Public Opinion. Edited by Karlheinz Reif and Ronald Inglehart. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991. Green HN380.5.Z9 1990
Traces changes in social and political orientations in Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain from 1970-1988. Provides perspectives on European Community integration.

Richard Niemi. Trends in Public Opinion. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989. Green HN90.P8N53 1989

5. Browsing Tips:

Standard Subject entries include Public Opinion, Public Opinion Polls, Social Surveys, and Data Libraries. Call number areas include: HM261, HN90, H62, Z7164, P91.

For further information, contact:
Tony Angiletta, Green Library
725-2520, tangilet@stanford.edu

Or, contact the Stanford Libraries' liaison to the Roper Center,
Ron Nakao, Green Library,
725-1062, ronbo@stanford.edu

Last modified: September 17, 2008

       
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