Survey Instruments (Questionnaires)

National Longitudinal Survey of Youth - 1997 Cohort

Survey Instruments (Questionnaires)

The term "survey instrument" is used to refer to the NLSY97 questionnaires that serve as the primary source of information on a given respondent.  In round 1, there were separate and distinctly different questionnaires for the household informant (the Screener, Household Roster, and Nonresident Roster Questionnaire), the NLSY97 respondent (the Youth Questionnaire), and the responding parent (the Parent Questionnaire).  In each subsequent round the Youth Questionnaire has been used to collect information from respondents.  A Household Income Update, used in rounds 2-5 supplemented the Youth Questionnaire with information on household income collected from a parent.  Each questionnaire is organized around a set of topical subjects, the titles of which usually appear on either the first page of each section of the questionnaire or as a header.  The various survey instruments are described in detail in Interview Methods. To access the individual questionnaires themselves, go to Questionnaires in the Other Documentation section.

The primary variables found within the main data set are derived directly from one or more survey instruments.  This section explains the conventions used in the NLSY97 documentation to identify questionnaire items from some of the primary survey instruments.

User Note

The questionnaires are critical elements of the NLSY97 documentation system and should be used by researchers to determine the wording of questions, response categories, and the universe of respondents asked a given question. Also, be aware that while the source of the majority of variables in the main data sets is the questionnaire, certain variables are created either from other NLSY97 variables or from information found in an external data source (see Types of Variables).

For each round, NLSY97 questionnaires record (1) interview dates; (2) responses to the topical survey questions; (3) locating information which will assist NORC in finding the respondent for the next interview (not available to users); and (4) interviewer remarks on such topics as the race and gender of the respondent, language in which the interview was conducted, interviewer's impressions, etc.  The show card, an interviewing aid used in conjunction with the questionnaire, lists the possible response categories for select questions and helps the respondent keep the more complicated response categories in mind.

Questionnaire Item or Question Name:  This generic term identifies the source of data for a given variable.  A questionnaire item may be a question, a check item, or an interviewer's reference item appearing within one of the survey instruments.  These items have question names that begin with an abbreviation of the section where each is located.  Following the section abbreviation, the question name includes a combination of numbers and letters that identify it within the section.  Many questions simply have numbers in numerical order.  Some questions, such as the examples in the tables contained in the link below, have a decimal extension that indicates the question is repeated or looped during the survey.  For example, a question about hours worked would be repeated for each employer, with decimal extensions .01 through .09 indicating employers 1-9.  Another common extension in question names is ~D, ~M, ~Y (or _D, _M, _Y ), indicating that the variable reports the day, month, or year of a date.  If a question is repeated in more than one round, it will have the same question name in each round so that users can easily locate identical questions in the data set across survey years.

For more information, see the tables Sample Question Names by Questionnaire Section.