April 27, 2010

Open Research Since 2000

The Pew Internet Project is committed to the principles of open research and has been since our inception in 2000. We make all of our reports, commentaries, presentations, and data sets available on our site for free. We try to make our site as easy to use as possible and we make ourselves available by phone, email, on Twitter, and in person, at speaking engagements and public meetings. We are committed to the conversation.
 
Why?
 
First, it’s part of our charter from The Pew Charitable Trusts to provide the public with data and insights about the social impact of the internet.
 
Second, we know that our research grows stronger the more people look at it, critique it, and make suggestions about it. 
 
Third, our research shows that people want access to raw data.
 
Fourth, as much as we publish from our surveys there are still other things to explore in our data. We encourage other researchers to use our data for their own studies.
 
The Government Online report we just released found that 40% of U.S. internet users have gone online for raw data about government spending and activities. Instead of holding that survey data back, we uploaded it to our site on the same day we released the report.
 
In addition, in every survey we field, we ask about respondents’ household income, their community type (suburban, urban, rural), their age, their income status, their race and ethnicity, their marital status, their parental status, and our data are geo-coded. Of course, in every survey we know the gender of the respondents. That means every survey we do can be re-analyzed along all those dimensions. And significance tests can be applied to all those demographic data. 

  
Some other recent uploads:
 
The September 2009 survey of teens which formed the basis for our popular reports on Teens and Mobile Phones, Teens and Sexting, and Teens and Distracted Driving.
 
The December 2008 survey which formed the basis for The Social Life of Health Information and Chronic Disease and the Internet. Note that this survey included questions about each respondent’s health status, including disability, chronic disease, and caregiver status.
 
We look forward to seeing the data take on new life in other researchers’ hands.  Please let us know what you find out!