ropercenter: Reproducible Retrieval of Roper Center Datasets

Frederick Solt


The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, in its own words, works “to collect, preserve, and disseminate public opinion data; to serve as a resource to help improve the practice of survey research; and to broaden the understanding of public opinion through the use of survey data in the United States and around the world.” It maintains the largest archive of public opinion data in existence, holding data dating back to the 1930s and from over 100 countries. Researchers taking advantage of these datasets, however, are caught in a bind. The terms and conditions for downloading any Roper Center dataset state that datasets “may not be resold or re-disseminated.”1 But to ensure that one’s work can be reproduced, assessed, and built upon by others, one must provide access to the raw data one employed.

The ropercenter package cuts this knot by providing programmatic, reproducible access to specified Roper Center datasets from within R for registered users at the Roper Center’s member institutions.

Please remember that by using Roper Center services, you accept all of the Center’s Terms and Conditions.


The ropercenter package interacts with the Roper Center website using the Firefox browser. Get Firefox here.

When used interactively, the roper_download function will ask for the login information required by the Roper Center: the registered user’s affiliation, email, and password. After that information is input once, it will be entered automatically for any other download requests made in the same session. To change this contact information within a session, one may set the argument reset to TRUE when running roper_download again, and the function will again request the required information.

An optional, but highly recommended, setup step is to add the information the Roper Center requires to your .Rprofile as in the following example:

options("roper_email" = "",
        "roper_password" = "password123!")

The roper_download function will then access the information it needs to pass on to the Roper Center by default. This means that researchers will not have to expose their info in their R scripts and that others reproducing their results later—given that they have registered as users with the Roper Center—will be able to execute those R scripts without modification. (They will, however, need to enter their own information either interactively or in their own .Rprofiles, a detail that should be noted in the reproducibility materials to avoid confusion.)


The roper_download function (1) simulates a visit to the Roper Center’s sign-in page, (2) enters the required information to sign in, (3) navigates to a specified dataset and downloads the dataset’s files, and, optionally but by default, (4) converts the dataset’s Stata- or SPSS-formated files to .Rdata format.

Datasets are specified using the file_id argument. The Roper Center uses a unique ‘archive number’ to identify each of its datasets; this number is consistently listed alongside the dataset’s name and under the Study Info tab. For this Fox News poll on the 2020 U.S. presidential election, for example, the file id is 31117412:

To reproducibly download this dataset:

roper_download(file_id = "31117412",
               download_dir = tempdir()) # remember to specify a directory for your download

Most older surveys also have a Roper ‘historical archive number’ that may also be used as the file id. This CNN/ORC poll on the 2016 U.S. presidential election can be downloaded using either its archive number, 31095595, or its historical archive number, USORCCNN2015-010, as the file id: