Research Opportunities

The University of Michigan has in recent years had the distinction of securing the largest amount of federal research funding of any university in the country. It is an important, but not a singular, measure of the university's overall strength and commitment to research.

For students interested in studying survey methodology, it is even more important that the University of Michigan, with the Institute for Social Research (ISR) as a premier academic unit in social science research, leads the country in research dollars supporting social science research. This research strength in social science provides survey methodology students with unparalleled opportunities to pursue research interests while at Michigan.

The University of Michigan and the Institute for Social Research are home to a number of major national social science studies spanning the social sciences from economics to political science to psychology and psychiatry and public health. Some of these landmark studies include:

  • The American National Election Studies has since 1948 collected data on political opinions and voting behaviors from nationally representative samples of voting age adults every two years around Congressional elections. Unlike political polls designed to predict the outcome of an election, these election studies are used nationally and internationally to develop a more complete understanding of how and why people vote, and vote for particular candidates.
  • The Program for Research on Black Americans was established in 1976 by an interdisciplinary team of social scientists who were convinced that high-quality national data on African Americans was critical for advancing academic scholarship and developing effective public policy. In keeping with that vision, PRBA seeks to collect, analyze, and interpret empirical data on African Americans as well as international data on people of African descent. A second important goal is to provide research and training opportunities for social scientists and students of color.
  • Heart Steps is a pilot project that delivers “Just-in-Time-Adaptive-Interventions” via smartphones to try to get cardiac patients to walk more. Each participant receives a smartphone with a special app and a wristband device. At five points during the day participants either did or did not get a message on their phones encouraging them to walk, stretch, or otherwise get moving. The wrist band then measured the outcome—the number of steps participants took in the hour after getting a message – allowing the research team to assess the effects of the intervention.  
  • The Health and Retirement Survey, and its companion survey, the Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old, is the nation's leading study of how economic decisions are made through the retirement years, and how health effects the economic well being of retired individuals. These surveys employ biennial survey interviews of a national probability sample of a cohort of adults who move from employment and to retirement.
  • The Monitoring the Future surveys study the teenage smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug usage in annual surveys of 8th, 10th, and 12thgrade students. The surveys have since the mid-1970's interviewed thousands of middle and high school students each year, and today the data are closely monitored to study trends in teenage drug and alcohol consumption.
  • The National Co-Morbidity Survey collects data on psychiatric conditions from nationally representative samples of adults through extensive survey interviews in their homes. These surveys are being used to assess the true prevalence of many psychiatric disorders in the US, and are providing invaluable data for developing national policy to diagnose and treat mental disorders.
  • The Panel Study of Income Dynamics is among the most famous of the surveys conducted at the Institute for Social research. Since 1968, researchers at the Institute have been following a sample of families, including their offspring, to study longitudinally how their jobs and employment change over time, and how those jobs are related to income, wealth accumulation, social condition, and family composition.
  • The Survey of Consumers collects monthly by telephone survey data on the consumer attitudes about economic matters, and is perhaps the most widely known Institute data collection. It generates a value of the consumer attitude index, a key component of the US leading economic indicators, a closely watched measure of the health of the US economy.

For a more complete list see ISR Research Projects.