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, issue 6, pp. 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 ( 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.