The FAQ are currently being comprehensively overhauled and updated and we will communicate the updated FAQ section once it is complete

Raising a data-related issue

The user support forum was set up in February 2012 to help data users getting the most out the resources we offer and to provide a facility for reporting potential data issues. The forum is attended to by staff several times a week and we aim to give short, precise answers within a week. In some cases it can take longer if the nature of the query mandates input from topic specialists.


  • Make use of the documentation section of the website beforehand
  • Read the user guide beforehand
  • Search the forum for answers to similar queries beforehand
  • Explain what doesn't work
  • Provide everything up-front and be specific about variables, files, waves, release date, and software. A few lines of syntax can help us replicate the problem
  • Copy in tables from a simple text editor such as Notepad and format as ‘predefined’
  • Consider the answer and follow up (‘update’ button) if there is anything we have misunderstood or not explained well enough


The different features of the forum can be tried out on
Guide to text formatting


Where can I read about the research findings?
How do I cite Understanding Society

External data linkage

Is it possible to merge in data on geographical identifiers, e.g. Census information?

Questionnaire design

Which questions are contained in Understanding Society?
What is the file and variable naming convention?

Survey design

How often are people interviewed for the survey and who is interviewed?
Are all household members followed up if they move?
Are the same questions asked in each wave?

Special license

Which variables are released under Special License?

Data releases

Where can I get the data?
When are future waves likely to be made available?

Data analysis

Which weights should I use?
Which method was used to impute missing data?
How do I merge household and individual level data from different data files?