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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES)


What topics are the CSES data about?

The CSES project focuses on respondents' behavior and attitudes during the time of a national election, with a special emphasis on voting and turnout. Each CSES Module consists of a nationally-representative post-election survey and additional variables about the context of the overall country and electoral system within which the respondents find themselves. Every five years a new CSES Module is designed with a different substantive theme selected to address important questions in electoral studies and social science.

A convenient resource for exploring CSES topics is the CSES Variable Table.


When will the next dataset be released?

Data collection for each CSES Module is five years in length. After the first year of data collection is complete, advance releases of each CSES Module are then disseminated approximately annually and contain whatever election studies have been collected and processed as of the release date. Final releases of CSES Modules are scheduled to occur as soon as possible after the end of each five-year data collection period, with it typically requiring a year or more for the project to receive the remaining election studies and process them.


How is the CSES funded?

The work of the CSES Secretariat is funded by the American National Science Foundation, the GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, and the University of Michigan's Center for Political Studies. The project also receives in-kind support from participating election studies, additional organizations that sponsor planning committee meetings and conferences, and the many organizations that fund national election studies that participate in CSES.


How can my election study participate in the CSES project?

The process for an election study to apply to join the project is an informal one. Researchers who are conducting a national election study may express their interest by emailing the project at: cses@umich.edu


What are the advantages of being a collaborator on the study?

Participating in the CSES provides your election study and organization with international exposure, and enables researchers globally to use your data in comparative research. Collaborators benefit from their participation in a global network of scholars with similar interests, receive opportunities to present their own work, receive assistance and advice in raising funding, and have input into the project's governance.


What are the requirements for being a collaborator on the study?

Collaborators must raise funds for their own nationally-representative post-election study, conduct it according to the methodological guidelines and instructions listed at the beginning of the questionnaire, and deposit the dataset and required documentation with the CSES Secretariat afterwards in a timely fashion.


I am a CSES collaborator and have completed my election study. What do I need to deposit with the CSES Secretariat?

Collaborators should deposit the following items as soon as possible after conducting their data collection:

How can I contact you if I discover an error, wish to add entries to the CSES bibliography, or to ask a question?

To add scholarly works to the CSES bibliography, be they your own or others' works, please use our convenient Bibliography Entry Submission Form.

For all other questions or issues, including error notifications, the project can be contacted via the following email address: cses@umich.edu


What are the different weighting variables for and how should I use them?

There are up to three weight variables available for each election study which appears within a CSES dataset: The aforementioned weight variables are developed by individual collaborators for each election study and may be cumulative, or not.

The CSES project is not able to provide advice as to which weights are appropriate to use in a particular situation, as this is best left to analysts to decide based on their detailed knowledge of the research question they are investigating and the type of analysis they are using. We recommend that analysts consult the Variables Description section of the CSES codebook for detailed information about each included election study weight.


Why are political parties and party leaders assigned both numerical and alphabetical codes and how do these two coding systems work?

Numerical codes are assigned for each party, coalition, and presidential candidate for which we have data. These codes are used in variables such as vote choice, where any party, coalition, and presidential candidate is possible to appear as a response.

Alphabetical codes are used for variables such as party/candidate left-right placement, where each variable refers only to one specific party, or the respective leader of that party. Alphabetic codes A through F are assigned to the top parties (and their associated leaders) contesting the election, ordered in descending order of their popular vote share. Alphabetic codes G through I are optional variables provided so that collaborators can add a party/candidate which is not among the top vote shares, but is thought to be important to ask about for another reason.


How do I merge additional macro and contextual data to the CSES datasets?

CSES datasets contain several identifiers which can be used to merge in additional data if desired. For example, the identification variable ending in _UN is the three-digit United Nation polity code, and the identification variable ending in _NAM is the verbatim name of the polity.