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SOEP Rated “Excellent” in 2019 Leibniz Evaluation

Report of April 29, 2020

The Leibniz Association Senate awarded the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) at DIW Berlin the rating of “excellent” for overall performance in its 2019 evaluation. The recently released evaluation report describes the SOEP as an outstanding research data infrastructure that has achieved the highest levels of recognition worldwide. It goes on to say that the SOEP’s exceptionally well prepared household surveys are a crucial basis for research on social change far beyond the institutional boundaries of DIW Berlin.

The international experts in the Leibniz evaluation group spent two days in May 2019 evaluating the SOEP in the context of a larger evaluation of DIW Berlin. They concluded that the SOEP has undergone outstanding further development since its last evaluation: The methodological quality of the data infrastructures has been substantially improved and coherently enhanced through the introduction of new innovations. With the SOEP Innovation Sample (SOEP-IS), the evaluators noted, the SOEP has become an international hub of social science research.

In their report, the evaluators highlighted a number of other important achievements: In recent years, the SOEP has designed new samples to fill important data gaps, including samples of immigrants and refugees, high net worth individuals, and samples of individuals in same-sex partnerships. These have been accompanied by technical and methodological innovations including georeferencing of data and the linkage of SOEP and register data. According to the evaluators, the provision of data to national and international users and of various services in the SOEP Research Data Center is exceptionally well organized.

The evaluators reported that the research being conducted at the SOEP is using convincing approaches to topics of high social relevance, such as social inequality and distribution, subjective well-being, personality and health, and migration and integration. They rated the work of the survey methodology team as excellent, and the department’s publication performance as excellent overall.

Evaluators also noted that the SOEP is exceptionally well networked nationally and internationally, highlighting the SOEP’s commitment to European initiatives such as the expansion of the Cross-National Equivalent File (CNEF), an international panel dataset with information on education, employment, income, health, and life satisfaction. According to the report, the SOEP’s work on these projects is of crucial importance for the scientific community.

The report also gives the SOEP high marks for its activities in the area of knowledge transfer, including the organization of summer schools since 2017 and the internationally oriented SOEP@campus training program in English.