University of Southern California


NSF-20-550: General Social Survey (GSS) Competition

Slots:                                                     1

Internal Deadline:                           April 3, 2020

LOI:                                                        June 1, 2020

External Deadline:                          August 17, 2020

Award Information:                        Type: Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 1

Anticipated Amount: $16,000,000

Submission Process:                     PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal:

Materials to submit:

Link to Award:                        

Who May Serve as PI:                    Any principal investigator or co-principal investigator who has received NSF support during the preceding five years must include a section describing Results from Prior Support. Please refer to the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) for more information; the PAPPG is available at:


The Sociology Program in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences invites investigators who possess the theoretical, methodological, measurement, and managerial skills, as well as institutional resources, to undertake a largescale survey data collection project to submit proposals to conduct the General Social Survey (GSS) and the International Social Survey Program (ISSP) United States surveys. The (GSS) is a personal interview survey that collects data on a wide range of topics: behavioral items such as group membership and voting; personal psychological evaluations, including measures of happiness, misanthropy, and life satisfaction; attitudinal questions on such public issues as abortion, crime and punishment, race relations, gender roles, and spending priorities; demographic characteristics of respondents and their parents. The basic GSS design is a repeated cross-sectional survey of a nationally representative sample of noninstitutionalized adults who speak either English or Spanish. The GSS is a 90-120-minute in-person interview, with forty-five minutes devoted to the core items, 15 minutes to questions selected as part of the ISSP, and 30 minutes allocated to topical modules. The “core” consists of questions that regularly appear on the GSS, allowing long-term comparisons. The topical modules are used to introduce new topics not previously investigated by the GSS and to cover existing topics in greater detail. The topical modules are currently supported by additional funding secured by the principal investigators (PIs) who propose them.

Beginning in 2006, the GSS core (questions that appear regularly on surveys) was translated into Spanish and administered in either English or Spanish, as preferred, beginning with the 2006 administration. This practice will need to continue in future surveys.

Innovations in the data collection process that fall within the parameters outlined in this solicitation are welcome.

Project oversight is provided by the GSS Board of Overseers that consists of prominent scholars with expertise in survey research, other social and behavioral methodologies, and a range of substantive areas. Board members review major project operations and participate in the initiation and development of topical modules. Board members represent the interests of the research communities that use the GSS. New Board members are nominated by the current board and usually serve four-year terms. It is expected that proposals will be designed so that the Board of Overseers will continue to fulfill its important functions.

The GSS award will fund the following activities.

The GSS award will not support secondary data analysis or investigator-based research.

Project descriptions should address the Principal Investigator’s ability and capacity to meet the following scientific infrastructure objectives:

The GSS has been a vital resource for researchers and students across a wide variety of fields in the social sciences and beyond. An important goal for the GSS is to continue to expand the range of users to additional disciplines. For example, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education researchers and developers have underutilized the data to address key questions regarding attitudes towards education and cross-national analyses regarding the role of STEM education in affecting a variety of societal outcomes. In addition, researchers need to understand how to develop opportunities offered by linkages of the GSS with administrative data. Project Descriptions should present a plan for outreach to the STEM education community. The outreach would effectively communicate the potential for GSS data to inform questions that STEM education researchers need to address. The goal would be to build a new and expanded community of scholars who use the GSS to address the broad range of STEM education issues facing our society today. Such outreach would also encourage usage of ISSP data to set the U.S. educational system and dynamics in international perspective.

Project Descriptions must highlight the ways in which GSS data, both past and future, are being made available to users, including researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, and larger communities beyond the academy. Metrics should be included so that the amount of use by various communities can be measured and the assessment of trends in use will be possible. The proposal should include a plan for making these several groups of users aware both of the GSS data and of these data’s capabilities.

Project Descriptions should also address the following project management issues:

Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for updates and other announcements.