Codebook Help 

What is a codebook? 

A codebook describes and documents the questions asked or items collected in a survey. Codebooks and study documentation will provide you with crucial details to help you decide whether or not a particular data collection will be useful in your research. The codebook will describe the subject of the survey or data collection, the sample and how it was constructed, 
and how the data were coded, entered, and processed.  The questionnaire or survey instrument will be included along with a description or layout of how the data file is organized.  Some codebooks are available electronically, and you can read them on your computer screen, download them to your machine, or print them out. Others are not electronic and must be used in a library or archive, or, depending on copyright, photocopied if you want your own for personal use.

Archive's Policy on Codebooks

          Most codebooks in the Archive are machine-readable, and can be downloaded from our 
          web site, provided you meet the UCLA computing security criteria. If the data were 
          acquired from ICPSR, you can go to the ICPSR web site, conduct a search by title, 
          author or keywords, and download the codebooks on your own. Some studies in the 
          Data Archive are documented with codebooks that are available only in print form. These 
          are not loaned out, and may only be used in the Archive study area.  The Archive is 
          currently converting print format codebooks to an electronic, PDF format, but until this 
          project is complete, and when permitted by copyright, you may make photocopies of 
          needed documentation. The cost is $.06/page. 
 

Codebook Example  

       Below is a diagram of the details included in most codebooks. This is a simple example of a 
       codebook.  In a complex survey, there will be more details about the flow of questions asked 
       and the electronic  organization of the data.  In addition to question text, the most important items 
       are variable names, values, value labels, and column  locations. Try to find them in the example 
       below and familiarize yourself with the layout of a codebook. 


 


       Here is an explanation of the codebook image above.The circled red numbers relate to each of 
       the subject headings below. 


1) Item or Variable Name 
This is usually a mnemonic, or nickname assigned to an individual question. 
2) Variable Label 
A short summary or description of question content. 
3) Card and Column Locations 
Indicates the electronic location of numerically coded responses to questions. 
4) Question Text 
Exact text of a question as delivered to a respondent. 
5) Values and Value Labels 
Describes the numeric and textual response options or categories to questions. 
6) Valid Responses 
Indicates the allowed numeric codes to question responses. 
7) Branching 
Indicates the flow of the questionnaire. 

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Copyright 1996 Institute for Social Science Research. Last Updated: 7-9-99 - Stephenson.