Our Methodology

Our Methods 

Springtide conducts an annual survey online for The State of Religion and Young People report. A vendor called Alchemer distributes our surveys, sending invitations randomly to a subsample of their 2 to 3 million national respondents between the ages of 13 and 25. Respondents are compensated from $0.50 to $2.62 per completed survey based on supplier rate and survey length, which ranges from 10 to 12 minutes per survey. Surveys are typically in the field for 4 to 6 weeks. 

Samples are balanced to census splits for age, gender, region, and ethnicity/race and are therefore nationally representative along these demographics. However, because the Census Bureau does not ask questions about religion, it is unclear how representative our samples are across metrics of religion. Survey data are therefore best understood as tracking broad patterns in young people’s religiosity rather than as providing precise point estimates. 

The sample sizes for our surveys are project dependent, ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 respondents per project, in order to conduct subgroup analyses of interest. The individual sample sizes for each project can be found in the methodology section of individual reports. To improve data quality, we use various validity checks to exclude responses from individuals who complete a survey too quickly, select the same response option for every question, or attempt to take a survey more than once. Additionally, Alchemer requires potential respondents to verify their identities and create user profiles that require yearly verification and updates. 

Our team of researchers uses IBM SPSS and/or R to clean and code the data. The extent to which we transform data is typically limited to the creation of dummy variables that allow us to examine categorical data, and the calculation of scale scores, when applicable. 

All survey instruments are tested via cognitive interviews. These interviews are meant to provide insight into how respondents are interpreting the questions and the response options. Surveys are amended in light of these insights to improve the quality of the instrument.

You can explore topline survey results or the full dataset for The State of Religion & Young People 2023: Exploring the Sacred on The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA). 

Springtide conducts interviews by telephone or video call with young people across the country using a nonprobability sampling approach. We recruit respondents via Springtide’s official social media accounts and targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram. These ads typically reach hundreds of thousands of young people ages 13 to 25 across the country and generate hundreds of responses from potential interviewees. We compile these interested parties into a list, excluding those who do not meet a project’s inclusion criteria. From this list, we randomly select a smaller sample of individuals to contact for interviews. This process is repeated until theoretical saturation is reached, meaning that additional interview data no longer provide new or unexpected analytic themes. Sample sizes are project dependent, ranging from 30 to 100 interviewees per project. 

Interviews typically last between 30 and 75 minutes. These interviews are guided but open-ended, allowing for unexpected themes to emerge while also maintaining as much consistency across interviews as possible. Each interview is coded and analyzed by at least two researchers to improve analytic reliability. Respondents are compensated for their participation with their choice of a physical $20 Visa gift card (mailed to their home address) or a virtual $20 Amazon gift card.

You can find the Inteview Guide for our most recent interviews here.

Springtide’s research involves young people, ages 13 to 25. We recognize the great responsibility that conducting research with young people entails. Thus, our team (not just the researchers!) is trained in research ethics, compliance, and safety from the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative, known as the CITI Program. Certificates of completion are available upon request from research@springtideresearch.org

Protecting the privacy and well-being of young people is especially important to us. Young people under the age of 18 cannot participate in our studies without the informed consent of a parent or guardian. We do not collect or maintain information from young people we know to be under age 13, and no part of our website is designed to attract anyone under age 13. Please do not communicate with us or contact us if you are under the age of 13.

All Springtide projects, including study instruments, informed consent forms, and the principal investigators’ credentials, are submitted to an external Institutional Review Board (IRB) for review. IRBs operate under federal regulations established by the US Department of Health and Human Services. They review and monitor research involving human subjects with the authority to approve, require modifications to, or reject research proposals. In this way, IRBs play a critical role in the protection of the rights and welfare of participants in the research process. 

You can find out more about the external IRB Springtide uses at https://www.sterlingirb.com/

Our Values and Funding 

Springtide Research Institute® is registered under the legal and fiscal agency of Lasallian Educational and Research Initiatives (LERI). LERI is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) member organization in the State of Minnesota and is Springtide’s primary funder. LERI is the sole funder of our annual The State of Religion and Young People report. 

LERI’s corporate member, the Brothers of the Christian Schools—also known as the Christian Brothers of De La Salle or the Lasallians—is a Catholic lay religious congregation founded by Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of teachers and a fierce advocate of the young. Our work is inspired by Saint John Baptist de La Salle’s passion for building communities oriented toward the good of young people, especially those who are marginalized. 

This passion guides our work, along with our other overarching institutional values:

We are committed to contributing to the creation of a just and loving world, a world that recognizes the inherent dignity of the human person and that is oriented toward human flourishing. We do our part by listening to and amplifying the voices of young people, particularly those who have been historically marginalized based on race, gender, sexuality, ability, immigration status, income, age, and religion, and by advocating for their well-being.

We take a strengths-based approach to our work and to our understanding of young people. This means we focus on young people’s individual and generational strengths and potential, not on their deficits. We believe that young people are fully human and worthy of dignity and respect now, not in some far-away future when they’ve “grown up” or changed to satisfy our expectations.

We acknowledge how our social locations, values, and commitments shape the research process—from the kinds of research questions we undertake to the data-driven recommendations we make. We believe that although no human can make completely neutral observations of the world, people can acquire truthful knowledge and understanding of reality through disciplinary training, sound research methods, and critical interrogation.

We believe that all young people deserve compassionate care and accompaniment. Compassion is the ability to be conscious ofand moved to action bythe suffering of others. It is made possible by listening with an open heart and mind, knowing that each person’s life containsmysteries which no one can fully know from without.” Only through this kind of compassionate posture can trusted adults help young people move away from languishing and toward flourishing.

Our research findings and conclusions are never altered to accommodate other interests, including those of the Christian Brothers, other organizations, churches, or government bodies and officials.

Who We Are 

Springtide Research Institute engages the power of social science to learn from and about young people ages 13 to 25. As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, we deliver accessible research on the perspectives and experiences of the newest generations. Our empirical data amplify the voices of young people, inform those who know and serve them, and lead the way in showing what’s next.

Learn more about us and meet the Springtide team here.