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Undergraduate students are welcome to participate in the LAPOP research institute in order to gain knowledge of international survey methods and applied experience on policy-relevant projects. There are two principal ways in which students may get involved, via the Fellows Program and/or as Research Assistants. Students may also find the System for Online Data Analysis (SODA) a useful tool for research projects. 

Undergraduate Research Fellows Program

The LAPOP Undergraduate Research Fellows program offers selected students the opportunity to learn the science of surveys, while working to create an original research project. Fellows spend some time in the LAPOP institute working alongside research staff and graduate students to gain hands-on experience, while simultaneously working through assignments that transfer knowledge and build skills in survey analysis and report writing. 

Students may participate via independent study or via a seminar (PSCI 3218). Occasionally, an honors seminar is offered. Interested students should contact Professor Zechmeister or Professor Lupu to inquire about which channels are an option.


Research Fellows conduct original research using LAPOP data. 2014 LAPOP Undergraduate Research Fellow, Emily Stewart, presented her research to LAPOP faculty, staff, and students. Her presentation, "Public Health Services use in Latin America and the Caribbean," can be found here.  This research led to the publication of an Insights that can be found here.

Research Fellows enrolled in seminars often participate in a poster session as a capstone to the course experience. To see a few pictures from the poster presentations for the Spring 2015 Honors 186 class using LAPOP data, click here. To read the Insights reports written by members of this class, see here and here


Undergraduate Research Assistants

Vanderbilt students with diverse majors work as research assistants alongside LAPOP staff, faculty, and graduate students. These undergraduate research assistants assist in many different tasks involved in the public opinion research design, processing, and reporting.


This semester LAPOP is grateful to have the assistance of:

Alexa Bussmann

Darby Howard

Grace Adcox

Sahil Soni

 Tucker Scott

Victoria Herring


In Their Own Words

"I initially worked as an auditor, reviewing interviews held across Latin America and checking them for fraud and discrepancies. In addition to honing my Spanish, this process helped me combine analysis and awareness for optimal accuracy. I am currently assisting with the AmericasBarometer Insights Series by working with the LAPOP team to publish a report of my own. Thus far, I have learned how to develop an outline, use the Stata technology to interpret the data, and conduct an in-depth literature review. I look forward to the next steps, as I am certain that I will be taught how to significantly improve my writing skills." –Sephora Leon, Senior, LAPOP Undergraduate Research Assistant

"While at LAPOP, I've reviewed interviews, conducted literature reviews, and even worked on translating subtitles for a video presentation. Helping with LAPOP's projects has allowed me to practice my Spanish and strengthen my research skills. Furthermore, I've gotten to see what political science research looks like firsthand." –Linzy Scott, Senior, LAPOP Undergraduate Research Assistant

"At LAPOP, I have had the opportunity to edit and proofread reports and check translations from English to Spanish. I have also labeled and categorized survey results so that the organization can better understand interviewer errors. Finally, I have had the opportunity to review current research in the field with regards to disaster research, in order to provide information on how to proceed with interviews following Mexico City earthquakes." –Graciella Sfirri, Senior, LAPOP Undergraduate Research Assistant 

"I began my work at LAPOP with auditing interviews for quality control purposes; it was very interesting to see how respondents from certain countries answered the questions. It also helped improve my Spanish greatly. Lately, I have been working on comparing English and Spanish documents and noting disparities, which has also helped improve my Spanish." –Cara Bumcrot, Junior, LAPOP Undergraduate Research Assistant

"My favorite project so far was one that included coding survey data to create a set of wordles. I've also worked on projects compiling information about nonresponse rates and formatting appendices. I've learned how to manage and analyze data." –Alexa Bussmann, Sophomore, LAPOP Undergraduate Research Assistant

System for Online Data Analysis (SODA)

LAPOP welcomes undergraduate students at Vanderbilt and elsewhere to use AmericasBarometer survey data in research papers and other course assignments. To facilitate such use, LAPOP and its partners at the University of Costa Rica maintain a website that allows individuals to query and analyze LAPOP survey data. This System for Online Data Analysis (SODA) is free and interactive, and does not require any registration. It is particularly useful for those individuals who do not have access to or skills to use advanced statistical software programs. We have developed a handbook that provides an introduction to the data analysis capacities of the SODA.