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​​​GSS interviews last 90 minutes on average, which is very long by the standards of survey interviews. Even so, the number of questions that can be included in any GSS is limited. Aside from the replicating core items which track change in selected social indicators, the GSS regularly includes special “modules”: sets of questions that add innovative content to the GSS and expand the range of topics it covers by going into depth on a subject within a single GSS.

NORC is the US member of the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). Each year, ISSP develops a cross-national module that focuses on a subject matter area such as the role of government, social inequality, national identity, or religion. ISSP modules consist of about 60 questions on that subject, which are answered by GSS respondents as well as respondents to national surveys in other countries. Many items in ISSP modules are repeated when that subject is again the focus of an annual ISSP module. Click here for a complete listing of ISSP modules.

Each ISSP module is obtainable in two ways. If you are only interested in the U.S. data, they are incorporated into any datafile associated with the year that the module was fielded. The full cross-national datasets can be obtained through GESIS' ZACAT and can be downloaded by registered users. Please note that there is often a two year lag on the release of ISSP data, to allow for harmonization of data from many countries.

"Topical” modules in the GSS focus on one subject area for US respondents only. Most items in topical modules appear on the GSS only once. There have been many GSS topical modules, including major modules on social networks ("Topical” modules 1985, 2004), intergroup relations and multiculturalism (1990, 1994, 2000), religion (1988, 1998), work and work organizations (1991, 2002), medical care (1996, 1998) and the Internet (since 2000). Occasionally a topical module will include items that have appeared in a previous GSS. To see the years in which any particular GSS item was measured, consult Appendix U: Variable Use by Year/Ballot.






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