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 More information on "triple-s" and "Quantum"

1. What is Quantum

The Survey research industry has a mature and large number of software products for all parts of the preparation, administration and analysis of any survey.

  • At the data-collection end of the spectrum, this covers questionnaire design, data-entry, web-based surveys, Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing etc.
  • In the middle it deals with data-validation, quality control and (on-line) correction of data.
  • At the back-end provision for data-analysis, tabulation and statistical programs - operating in both batch and interactive mode.

Listed below are a few of the major players. The Quantum system from SPSS/MR is considered to be one of the more ubiquitous ones within the Private Sector in the Market and Social Research world - in Europe, USA and Far East.

2. What is triple-s

Virtually all the software systems have their own unique way of defining the data that they collect or analyse (e.g. The Variable sex, has value Male and Female, corresponding to value "1" or "2" in the 4th field of the data). These definitions are called "meta-data" or schema

There is a requirement to transfer data (and the data-definitions) regularly between Research agencies and bureaux, however with widely varying standards, this is a major challenge. This need was recognised in the early 80's and a team was formed to develop a common language (triple-s) for describing survey data. In the late 90's this was extended to take advantage of XML and virtually all the software vendors had developed 'links' that allow them to import and export data in proprietary systems to/from triple-s. Despite their market position, the vendors of Quantum (SPSSMR) were slow to produce converters and 3rd party providers have provided these link programs

In Spring 2001, Mark-IT released a "triple-s to Quantum" converter - SSSQT.

As part of the triple-s philosophy it has been written using Open Standards it will therefore run on UNIX, LINUX, VMS and DOS/Windows. It is being made available at no charge.

3. More reading

Tim Macer services at - an independent web-site dedicated to the software available for the market research world. Although most of it relates to the data-collection (paper, phone and web-based), it contains good references to the most popular cross-tab and report packages.
triple-s - the (xml) model for interchange of data encapsulating both the data and meta-data (descriptions of that data). See more information about this evolving open standard at

The main vendors of data analytical software (and therefore interested in links with triple-s) for the MR industry in Europe are

Perhaps the main cross-tab package is SAS

Data-warehouse software and OLAP technology shares common objectives with MR tabulation software but represents a major investment of software, hardware, people and time.

For an overview of the International Market Research industry visit or

For more information on research and support for standards in the world of data-transfer - albeit within the framework of transferring survey and statistical data - see Opensurvey at and Metanet