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SDA: Survey Documentation and Analysis

Online Analysis for Social Science Data

What Is SDA?

SDA (Survey Documentation and Analysis) is a web based software tool for conducting statistical analysis of survey data. It is used to assist faculty in teaching with data..

The Social Science Data Archive also uses SDA as part of our work with classes in developing data literacy.

SDA Features


  • Codebooks: Sda can produce both HTML and print-format codebooks. The documentation for each study contains a full description of each variable, indexes to the variable, indexes to the variables, and links to study-level information.
  • DDI (Data Documentation Initiative) compatibility: SDA programs can produce DDI-format metadata from SDA datasets and from other metadata formats. SDA also provides an online utility that converts DDI metadata to SDA's own metadata format (DDL).


  • Various analysis types are available: frequencies and crosstabulation, comparison of means, correlation matrix, comparison of correlations, multiple regression, logit/probit regression.
  • Fast results: SDA was designed to produce analysis results very quickly -- within seconds -- even for large datasets with millions of cases and thousands of variables. Although many of our users assume we are using some sort of super computer to achieve these speeds, the secret lies solely in the method of storing the data and the design of the programs. The SDA Archive on our site runs on a low-cost (Intel) Linux server -- although versions of SDA are also available for Windows and (Sparc-based) Solaris.
  • Creation of new variables with recode and compute procedures: SDA includes procedures to create new variables based on the content of existing variables through recode or compute specifications.
  • Complex standard errors: Data collected from stratified and/or cluster samples require special procedures to calculate standard errors and confidence intervals. SDA uses those special procedures for percentages, means, differences between means, and regression coefficients.
  • Charts: SDA produces various chart types: bar charts, stacked bar charts, line charts and pie charts.
  • Disclosure specifications for confidentiality: The analysis programs can be configured to suppress output that may compromise the confidentiality of survey respondents. The analysis programs will all read a disclosure configuration file (if one has been created for a study), and will enforce the specifications in that file.

Other Capabilities

  • Subsetting: Users can generate and download a customized subset of an SDA dataset. In addition to generating a data file, the subset procedure produces a codebook for the subset and data definitions for SAS, SPSS, Stata and DDI. The subset can include both the original dataset variables and new variables created with recode or compute.
  • Searching: SDA provides searching both within a single study (at the variable level) and across studies (at both the variable and study level).
  • Quick Tables: SDA's Quick Tables is a simplified interface for obtaining analysis results.

From SDA: Survey Documentation and Analysis,