SOEP Innovation Sample (SOEP IS)

Deadlines for the 2021 survey:
Brief description of project by November 30, 2020
If invited, complete proposal by December 31, 2020

Information about SOEP-IS in general is published in

Richter, David, and Jürgen Schupp. 2015. The SOEP Innovation Sample (SOEP IS). Schmollers Jahrbuch 135 (3), 389-399 (doi: 10.3790/schm.135.3.389)
David Richter, Jürgen Schupp. 2012. SOEP Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS) - Description, Structure and Documentation. SOEPpaper 463 | PDF, 162.91 KB .

For information about data acess and documentation, field work reports and questionnaires, sample sizes and the later, please refer to our site on the  current release of the SOEP-IS dataset.

For further questions please contact David Richter.

SOEP-IS for new research questions

SOEP users are invited to submit proposals for the next round of the SOEP Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS). For those not yet familiar with SOEP-IS, this unique innovation sample offers great potential as a source of household micro-data, particularly for researchers seeking information that is not available in SOEP-Core—for example, specific information on households or on people’s opinions.

SOEP-IS can accommodate not only short-term experiments but also longer-term survey modules that are not suitable for SOEP-Core, whether because the survey instruments are still relatively new or because of the specific issues dealt with in the research. Up to now, the SOEP-IS has included (complex) economic behavioral experiments, Implicit Association Tests (IAT), and complex procedures to measure time use (Day Reconstruction Method, DRM).

The SOEP-IS was launched in 2011, and each year since then, researchers at universities and research institutes worldwide have been invited to submit proposals for inclusion in the subsequent year’s survey. A competitive referee process is conducted to select the “best” research questions and operationalizations for implementation in the SOEP-IS. The SOEP Research Data Center distributes the SOEP-IS data to external users as an independent dataset.

Data from SOEP-IS modules are provided exclusively to the researchers who submitted the respective proposals for an initial 12-month period. After this embargo has ended, the data are released to the entire SOEP user community for secondary analysis.

An overview of all SOEP-IS modules to date can be found here.

As a new technical feature, the 2014 SOEP-IS premiered the use of 111 smart phones for data collection using the Experience Sampling Method (ESM). If you have an idea for using ESM in the SOEP-IS, please contact us for details.


Proposals can be submitted by email to the SOEP survey management at:

  • All proposals must be written in English.
  • Proposals should not overlap with topics and questions covered by existing SOEP data  (see
  • Proposals should use the template for SOEP-IS proposals (pdf | PDF, 79.64 KB or docx | DOCX, 171.84 KB ). Proposals should be accompanied by the names, addresses, affiliations and short CVs with the main publications for all of the participating researchers.
  • Applicants will be expected to secure outside funding to cover the costs of any incentives for behavioral experiments or the collection of biomarkers (e.g., saliva) if envisioned by the proposal.
  • If the proposal is accepted, SOEP survey management will draft versions of the questions that will then be finalized in collaboration with the researchers submitting the proposal.
  • The core mode of data collection to date has been computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI); the proposal should clarify whether and, if so, why other modes of data collection are needed. Data collection modes other than CAPI must be financed by the researcher.


A subcommittee of the SOEP Survey Committee will then evaluate and rate the relevance and significance of the proposed questions. If the proposed project already has funding from the DFG or other funding agencies, this step of external evaluation will be skipped. Since projects funded by the DFG and other organizations providing research funding also require a guarantee of survey methodological feasibility, interested researchers should contact SOEP Survey Management before submitting an application for funding.

Evaluation Criteria

All proposals are evaluated according to scientific quality, suitability, feasibility, and costs. Specifically, the following considerations are relevant:

Scientific quality and relevance

  • Potential for scientific breakthrough
  • Sound analytical framework and empirical design
  • Appropriateness of the proposed research methodology
  • Reputation of the researcher or research group. A plus, though not a requirement, is an international dimension.

Suitability for the SOEP Innovation Sample

  • What is the added value of using a longitudinal household survey?
  • To what degree will the longitudinal nature of SOEP-IS be utilized?
  • To what degree is the multi-disciplinary nature of SOEP-IS be utilized?
  • How does the proposal relate to the core variables (asked each year) of SOEP-IS?


  • Questions must be comprehensible to respondents from different educational backgrounds.
  • Questions must respect the respondents' privacy.
  • Especially interesting questions for the respondent(s) are preferred.
  • Questions with low response burden (1 or 2 additional minutes) are preferred.

Costs for SOEP-IS

  • The SOEP-IS is an infrastructure for the international research community. Survey questions from accepted proposals will be introduced into SOEP-IS without any additional costs.
  • If there is a need to integrate additional subsamples into the SOEP-IS, external funding is expected to be raised by the proposer.
  • Similarly, if behavioral experiments are part of a proposal, or if non-survey contents are part of a proposal (e.g., biomarkers), external funding is expected to be raised by the proposer.


  1. All researchers interested in submitting a proposal must contact SOEP survey management with a brief description of their project by the end of November. Proposals submitted without prior consultation with the SOEP survey team will not be considered.
  2. The survey team will give its preliminary recommendations on general feasibility of the proposal without evaluating the scientific merit of the study. The SOEP team will decide once per year (in spring) on submitted proposals. To be considered for evaluation and possible implementation in any given year, proposals must be submitted by December 31st of the year prior to the study implementation.
  3. The SOEP survey team will evaluate the need for additional pretests or pilot studies.
  4. Following a final decision of methodological feasibility, two further lines of evaluation are possible:

    A. If the proposal is funded by an external peer-reviewed funding agency (e.g., DFG or NIH in the US), acceptance for funding will be considered proof of the scientific merit of the study and the module will be included in SOEP-IS without further evaluation.

    B. If the proposal is not funded by an external peer-reviewed agency but by private foundations, the SOEP Survey Committee will evaluate the proposal and come to a decision regarding the scientific merit of the research proposal. The proposal will be accepted if two members of the SOEP Survey Committee provide a short letter of support.
  5. Following a positive evaluation (via either A or B above), SOEP survey management will suggest the next possible implementation of the SOEP-IS and will finalize the necessary field preparations.
  6. The number of proposals to be accepted is unlimited. The timing of proposal implementation is at the discretion of SOEP survey management, according to what is considered to be appropriate in line with other modules, overall content, and the burden to respondents.



Researchers interested in submitting proposals should contact SOEP survey management by November 30, 2020, with a brief description of their project. If the project is determined to be viable from a survey methodology perspective, applicants will be invited to submit a complete proposal by December 31, 2020.

Project descriptions and proposals should be submitted in English to  .

If you have any questions, please contact David Richter ().