Shaun Bevan, Frank R. Baumgartner, Erik Johnson, John McCarthy
Understanding Selection Bias, Time-Lags and Measurement Bias in Secondary Data Sources: Putting the Encyclopedia of Associations Database in Broader Context

Social Science Research, 2013: 42, Heft 6, S. 1750-1764
ISSN: 0049-089X (print); 1096-0317 (online)

Secondary data gathered for purposes other than research play an important role in the social sciences. A recent data release has made an important source of publicly available data on associational interests, the Encyclopedia of Associations (EA), readily accessible to scholars (www.policyagendas.org). In this paper we introduce these new data and systematically investigate issues of lag between events and subsequent reporting in the EA, as these have important but under-appreciated effects on time-series statistical models. We further analyze the accuracy and coverage of the database in numerous ways. Our study serves as a guide to potential users of this database, but we also reflect upon a number of issues that should concern all researchers who use secondary data such as newspaper records, IRS reports and FBI Uniform Crime Reports.