Skip to main content

How to Improve Coding for Open-Ended Survey Data: Lessons from the ANES


Open-ended responses to survey questions hold the promise of being able to provide some of the richest and most detailed data that can be collected with surveys. However, in order to quantify the information contained in open-ended responses, researchers must make decisions about how that information should be coded. In any case, some information will be lost, but this loss can often be controlled and shaped by the researcher that makes the coding decisions. This chapter draws on the extensive codebook generation process undertaken by the American National Election Studies (ANES) to demonstrate how important it is that great care be taken to produce detailed codebooks and ensure that those codes are accurately applied to the open-ended responses.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References and Further Reading

  • Bennett, Stephen. (1998). “Know-Nothings Revisited: The Meaning of Political Ignorance Today.” Social Science Quarterly 69: 476–490.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gibson, J. L., & Caldeira, G. A. (2009). Knowing the Supreme Court? A Reconsideration of Public Ignorance of the High Court. The Journal of Politics, 71(2), 429–441.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Luskin, R. C. (2002). From Denial to Extenuation (and Finally Beyond): Political Sophistication and Citizen Performance. In J. H. Kuklinski (Ed.), Thinking about Political Psychology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Arthur Lupia .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2018 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Lupia, A. (2018). How to Improve Coding for Open-Ended Survey Data: Lessons from the ANES. In: Vannette, D., Krosnick, J. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Survey Research . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Download citation