Maximizing Benefits from Survey-Based Research
by Noam Lupu, Vanderbilt University and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister, Vanderbilt University
Despite the best of intentions, many social science studies end up unpublished or with few citations, and few studies are acted on by policymakers to address critical global challenges. Yet, researchers can still realize numerous positive effects in the course of their research. In one of our core areas of expertise—international public-opinion studies—we identify and discuss seven groups that stand to benefit from intentional efforts: (1) respondents who gain a chance to express their views by participating in surveys; (2) local enumeration teams who benefit from the transfer of new methods; (3) local survey-research organizations who build new capacities and extend their portfolios; (4) local academic partners who by contributing to the design and implementation of a study may discover new data and collaborations; (5) local and international policymakers whose efforts may benefit from the findings; (6) students who can receive hands-on training in the course of a study; and (7) the mass public, which gains new evidence for policy dialogue when researchers disseminate findings locally. When one considers all the ways that researchers can engage, train, and disseminate results to communities within and outside the academy, the value of social science research is magnified.