GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

The GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences is the largest German infrastructure institute for the social sciences. It is headquartered in Mannheim, with a location in Cologne. With basic research-based services and consulting covering all levels of the scientific process, GESIS supports researchers in the social sciences. As of 2017, the president of GESIS is Christof Wolf.

GESIS is part of the Leibniz Association and receives federal and state funding.



Established in 1986 as German Social Science Infrastructure Services (Gesellschaft Sozialwissenschaftlicher Infrastruktureinrichtungen), GESIS originally consisted of the three independent institutes:

  • Social Science Information Centre (InformationsZentrum Sozialwissenschaften, IZ) in Bonn,
  • Central Archive for Empirical Social Research (Zentralarchiv für Empirische Sozialforschung, ZA) in Cologne, and
  • Centre for Survey Research and Methodology (Zentrum für Umfragen, Methoden und Analysen, ZUMA) in Mannheim.

In 2007, the three GESIS institutes merged into one. In November 2008, GESIS added "Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences" to its name in order to emphasize its membership in the Leibniz Association.

In November 2011, GESIS Bonn and Cologne were merged into one location in Cologne.


The GESIS social science services available to support the work of researchers are aligned to the five phases of the research data cycle.

Research data and information

  • sowiport – The portal contains more than 7 million references on social science research projects, publications and events from 18 databases. The databases can be simultaneously searched with a single query, all free of charge.
  • SSOAR (Social Science Open Access Repository) – The open-access repository offers free access to more than 15,000 fulltexts. Researchers have the opportunity to make their own publications available to the scientific community.
  • DBK (Data Catalogue / Datenbestandskatalog) – Approximately 5,000 studies can be searched and ordered via the catalogue. These are available for usage in secondary analyses or as reference for own surveys.
  • HISTAT (Historical Time Series) – The online database contains historical studies and time series which are available to download free of charge.
  • ZACAT – A catalogue of international comparative studies and national data collections, which are available to download free of charge.
  • CEWS (Center of Excellence Women and Science, Kompetenzzentrum Frauen in Wissenschaft und Forschung) – The portal offers structured information on the topic of equal opportunity in science.

Study design and study planning

  • International and national project consultation – GESIS advises researchers during the entire course of a project or for specific aspects at the national and international level.
  • Sampling – Sampling experts are available to work on sampling design, phone sampling or to offer analysis on comparing different sampling designs.
  • Online surveys – Consulting for online data collection and online research, including determining sampling, questionnaire design in web surveys, the selection of survey software, etc.
  • Standard demography and regionalization – Instruments for standardizing and considering regional and sociodemographic contexts during data collection
  • Survey instruments – GESIS specializes in the evaluation of survey instruments and development of questionnaires.

Data collection

  • ALLBUS (German General Social Survey / Allgemeine Bevölkerungsumfrage) – GESIS collects up-to-date data on attitudes, behavior, and social structure from the German population.
  • GLES (German Longitudinal Election Study) – Data from Germany's largest and most ambitious national election study for examining and analyzing the electorate is available free of charge.
  • PIAAC (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) – GESIS is an integrated partner in the OECD study examining adult competency levels simultaneously across 24 countries via its population survey of adult skills.
  • ISSP (International Social Survey Programme) – The international collaboration conducts annual conjoint surveys on social science relevant topics across 48 countries.
  • EVS (European Values Study) – The empirical longitudinal survey conducted in 47 countries is aimed at providing insight into changes in human values.
  • CSES (Comparative Study of Electoral Systems) – The international election study integrates data from post-election surveys from approximately 40 countries.
  • GESIS Panel - The GESIS Panel offers the academic social science community a possibility to collect primary data within a probability-based omnibus access panel free of charge. The data are representative of the German speaking population aged between 18 and 70 years (at the time of recruitment) and permanently residing in Germany. Data collected within the GESIS Panel can be used by academic researchers free of charge, e.g. to conduct secondary research.

Data analysis

  • Official microdata service (Microcensus) – Involving 370,000 households, the microcensus is the largest yearly household survey in Europe and has been conducted in the former West German regions since 1957, and since 1991 includes the new Laender of the former East Germany. Comprehensive information, metadata and a multitude of instruments on the microcensus data can be found in the Microdata Information system MISSY.
  • Social Indicator Monitoring (SIMon) – Social Indicator Monitoring offers indicators on individual quality of life and social change in Germany and in Europe for searching online and downloading. SIMon integrates both the European and the German System of Social Indicators.
  • Online analysis in ZACAT – The online study catalogue ZACAT offers users the opportunity to search in selected international comparative studies and national data collections. The data is available for downloading and online basic data analysis.

Archiving and registration of research data

  • Registration agency for social science and economic data|da|ra – GESIS operates da|ra, the data registration service for social and economic data, to make research data permanently available and identifiable via a DOI-name. This infrastructure establishes the foundation for long-term, permanent identification, safeguarding, localization and reliable citability of research data.
  • Data archiving – GESIS offers long-term storage of research data and related study materials. GESIS also prepares and makes the material ready for downloading to be used for secondary analysis.


GESIS offers a wide range of events , especially training courses in social research methods, that develop participants’ applied research methods skills in depth and in breadth covering the whole survey life cycle. Since 2012 the GESIS Summer School in Survey Methodology is offered for PhD students and young researchers. The GESIS Spring Seminar on advanced methods of quantitative data analysis and the GESIS Methodenseminar on basic knowledge and skills in quantitative data analysis are taking place for over 40 and 30 years, respectively. The trainings are completed by GESIS Workshops on current research methods and survey programs.


GESIS conducts research on content and methodology focusing on survey methodology, social structure, attitudes and behaviors in modern societies, applied computer science and information science.

GESIS Research Data Centers

The GESIS Research Data Centers carry out knowledge transfer in continuing education offers and publications based on own content research and offer data services and consulting for users.

  • RDC Elections
  • RDC German Microdata Lab
  • RDC International Survey Programmes

GESIS Journals

GESIS publishes multiple academic journals in the area of the social sciences.

  • Historical Social Research (HSR)
    An international, bilingual scientific journal featuring articles on new historical research methods and can be found in the Social Science Citation Index.
  • Social Indicators Information Service (ISI, Informationsdienst Soziale Indikatoren)
    Published twice yearly to inform both academic experts and the interested public about selected trends in general social change.
  • methods, data, analyses (mda)
    Articles and reports on all questions important to survey methodology with an emphasis on new methodological and/or statistical knowledge and current applications of methods in research practice.
  • Survey Methods: Insights from the Field
    A peer-reviewed online journal to promote professional exchange on practical survey research issues and discussion on new and promising paths in survey research.

Executive board and statutory bodies

GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences is a registered organization with the following statutory bodies:

  • General Meeting of Members
  • Board of Trustees
  • President
  • Scientific Advisory Board
  • User Advisory Board

Since June 2015, Prof. Dr. Christof Wolf is acting as the interim president of GESIS.


GESIS is divided into five scientific departments; their research-based services and products cover the entire spectrum of empirical social research.

  • Data Archive for the Social Sciences (DAS)
  • Monitoring Society and Social Change (DBG)
  • Computational Social Science (CSS)
  • Survey Design and Methodology (SDM)
  • Knowledge Technologies for the Social Sciences (WTS)

The research data centers are positioned across all the departments. In addition to access to unique data, they also provide special preparation of existing datasets, additional materials and context information as well as offering consulting based on own research.

External links


Information as of: 16.08.2021 05:56:06 CEST

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