SOEP User Survey
SOEP User Surveys
Only if we have precise knowledge about the needs of the users of the SOEP data we are able to provide the best service. Therefore, in regular intervals we conduct user surveys.
We give thanks to those SOEP users who have participated in the SOEP User Surveys.
The 2013 SOEP User Survey
SOEP User Survey now underway! Please participate by December 20, 2013.
We would like to ask you to complete a short questionnaire. By doing so, you will help us continue improving the SOEP data and our services to the international SOEP user community.
If you did not receive a personal invitation, please register at
(This link will be active only up to December 20.)
The entire survey will take only 10 minutes to complete. We hope to have achieved an appropriate balance between the time that the survey requires of you and the benefits your information and personal opinions will offer to the ongoing development of the SOEP study.
The results of this survey will be published in an upcoming SOEPnewsletter. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time: email@example.com
Results of the 2012 SOEP User Survey
A total of 574 users participated in the survey conducted in spring 2012, corresponding to a response rate of 21%. Most of our users continue to come from an economics (49%) or sociology (36%) background.
Because the SOEP is a longitudinal study, it was particularly important for us to learn more about whether you also use this property of the data for your analyses. The results showed that as few as 19% of respondents only use the cross-sectional aspect of our data and 22% make use solely of the longitudinal component. However, the majority (59%) use both the cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis potential of SOEP data.
A clear shift in the use of statistical software is evident. In 2004, SPSS was the most frequently used software (66%), followed by Stata (28%) and SAS (5%). In 2012, Stata ranks highest (55%), SPSS second (26%), and the open source software R has replaced SAS in third place with 9%.
Results of the 2011 SOEP User Survey
To get a better picture of how SOEP users feel about the various services we provide, including data quality, data access, and documentation, we carry out regular surveys of users in Germany and abroad. Our main objective in the 2011 User Survey, which was conducted last summer, was to obtain feedback and suggestions for further improvements.
We sent out 1,996 e-mails to SOEP contract and sub-contract holders, and received answers from 443 users (22.2 percent). This figure corresponds fairly precisely to the number of "active" SOEP users who requested and received a data DVD in 2010 (N = 420). We thank all our users who responded to our invitation by completing the questionnaire.
Concentration of SOEP users in economics and sociology
As in previous years, the majority of this year's respondents came from the fields of economics (50%) and sociology (33 percent), followed by psychology (6 percent), statistics (4 percent), and political science (2 percent). The remaining 6 percent work in medicine, education, and geography. Most respondents work in Germany (70 percent) and the European Union (20 percent). Six percent of respondents work in North America and 4 percent in other parts of the world. Overall, users reported a high level of satisfaction with SOEP service: the reported overall mean satisfaction was 8.3 percent, satisfaction with data access was 8.6 percent, and satisfaction with documentation
was 7.9 percent (possible values ranging from 0 to 10). Only five respondents reported dissatisfaction (values between 0 and 4).
Four-fifths of respondents use the longitudinal component of the data, one-fifth already use SOEPlong
The results on data use show that more than 80 percent of respondents are using the longitudinal component of the data. This is good news for us, since it confirms that we are on the right track with our new data format, SOEPlong, which promises to make work with the SOEP data easier for many users. SOEPlong significantly reduces the number of
datasets by consolidating all those that are similar, and solves the problem of variable names differing from one wave to the next. Despite the fact that it is still in the beta stage, SOEPlong is already being used by 20 percent of user survey respondents. In this year's data release, we are already providing the second, improved beta version of SOEPlong.
As ever, we would be grateful for your feedback and suggestions.
Plans to publicize the teaching version of SOEP data
The survey results on the use of SOEP data in teaching also proved very interesting. Although 68 percent of respondents teach at the university level, only 17 percent of them are using the special teaching version of the SOEP data. In fact, only 42 percent of respondents active in teaching were aware of the existence of the special teaching data set. In the future, we plan to provide users with more information about the possibilities of using this special SOEP dataset in teaching.
Plans to improve the visibility of SOEPinfo
The User Survey provided useful feedback on SOEPinfo as well: 13 percent of respondents were unfamiliar with SOEPinfo. To rectify this, we plan to give SOEPinfo a more prominent place on our homepage and to further improve the possibilities it offers. One goal is to incorporate metadata information on the SOEPlong data format into a webbased metadata information system.
Around two-thirds of SOEP users currently working with Stata
The 2011 User Survey showed a significant change in the software used with the SOEP data since the last user survey in 2004 (see Fig. 1). Most respondents are now using Stata, which has taken the lead over SPSS. The open-source software R is used by 8 percent of respondents. Relatively few users are working with Mplus (3%), SAS (3 %), or TDA (2%).
Stata users were also asked which version of Stata they are using. The results showed that three-quarters of Stata users work with Stata/SE or Stata/MP. A substantially smaller group is using the limited intercooled version, Stata/IC, which allows only a limited number of usable variables within a data set and thus is unable to open the entire individual dataset “PL” in SOEPlong (note: it is possible, however, to load the variables in Stata/IC needed by choosing the variables directly with the command “use”: “use HID PID varlist using pl.dta”).
Thank you for your participation!
The importance of our regular communication with you, the SOEP users, is underscored by the fact that two errors were pointed out to us in responses to the survey. We have corrected these in the new SOEP.v27 data release (one error in variable correspondence and one in the English labels).
We are very grateful to everyone who participated and will do our best to put your very useful suggestions into practice.