The MSL team will use the national dataset to address pre-determined research questions. Thus, data collected from a particular year (e.g., 2018) will not be available to other researchers for at least three years.  Therefore, the 2015 data set is the only one currently available for external use.


Proposals for use of Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL) Data

The MSL is committed to advancing evidence-based practice and empirical research in higher education particularly in the area of leadership education. To this end, we are happy to engage in data sharing to advance this important work. Any school is more than welcome to share their data with others and/ or publish results from their institutional data. The MSL embargos the national data set for at least three years prior to making it available to others for use. This means that the 2012 data are currently available for use. Furthermore, MSL is an aggregate data set and due to contractual and IRB compliance issues data cannot be shared for individual institutions or any partitions of data that could reveal institutional affiliation.

Available Data Set

MSL currently has one master data set, which has data associated with the core outcome measures (i.e., social change model values, leadership efficacy, complex cognitive skills).

2015 data: Approximately 77,489 students (plus 19,099 partial responses) on 72 campuses

  • Class Year: 15,920 First-years; 20,233 Sophomores; 23,581 Juniors; 27,776 Seniors+

  • Gender: 27,390 Females; 49,948 Males; 151 Transgender

  • Racial Groups: 4,198 African American/ Black; 118 American Indian; 6,120 Asian American; 3,961 Latino; 620 Middle Eastern; 6,687 Multiracial; 55,004 White/ Caucasian; 1,037 Not Included

  • Sexual Orientation: 70,187 Heterosexual; 4,237 Bisexual/ Gay/Lesbian/ Questioning; 1,881 Rather Not Say

  • Generational Status: 11,098 First Generation; 64,952 Non-First Generation

 Some unique variables in this data set include:

  • Social Change Behaviors

  • Leadership Efficacy

  • Cognitive Skills

  • Outcomes of Mentoring Relationships

  • Spirituality: Search for Meaning

  • Social Perspective-Taking

  • Collective Racial Esteem

  • Campus Climate (Sense of Belonging & Non-Discriminatory)

  • Outcomes of Socio-Cultural Discussions with Peers

  • Aspirations

  • Resiliency

Access to Data

Priority access of MSL data is first given to members of the research team.

Proposals with research questions and variable selections that do not overlap with MSL research team projects will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Variables being used in research team articles may still be considered for use in theses or dissertations, but there may be restrictions on the publication of findings with priority given to MSL team articles. Those interested in using MSL data are encouraged to visit the publications webpage on the MSL website, which provides information about existing publications. You will want to ensure that your proposed study does not overlap with the questions that have already been asked. The publications section can be accessed here.

Submitting a Proposal 

All requests for use of MSL data should be directed to MSL Project Manager at Individuals should obtain a copy of the MSL Codebook* prior to their proposal to aid in this process. The proposal must contain:

  1. Name and contact information for proposer;

  2. If the proposer is a student, it must identify the program, university, and advisor for the study;

  3. Identify the time frame for the study;

  4. Provide a prospectus that contains the purpose of the study with specific research questions;

  5. Identify any specific sub-sample of cases (e.g., religiously affiliated institutions, only female students);

  6. Identify the specific variables that are requested in this study;

  7. Identify possible publication outlets for the study if you intend to publish results.

All proposal should be submitted electronically and adhere to the above parameters. The Project Manager will make every attempt to respond in a timely manner to requests. However, it is recommended that proposals be submitted well before data are needed as requests can take up to two months to process.

* NOTE: the MSL instrument may not be copied, reproduced, or used for data collection without the express written permission of the Principal Investigator. Additionally, the full data set may not be requested for exploratory research. Proposers are expected to provide clear research questions and the specific variables to be used in analyses.

Conditions for Use

The researcher(s) of an approved proposal must further agree to the following items. A document with this information will be signed by the researcher(s) prior to release of the data.

  1. Obtain IRB approval on home campus and provide copy of documentation with signed document;

  2. Follow MSL and local IRB protocols (e.g., storage of data, access to data, destroy data upon project completion);

  3. If a project of a student researcher for a thesis or dissertation, provide evidence of supervision by thesis/dissertation advisor;

  4. Use variables only for the proposal proposed. Must obtain additional approvals from MSL for other uses of data;

  5. We encourage publications of findings; said publication must cite source of data and cite at least one of the MSL articles or a source identified by the PI. Limitations on publications may be a stipulation in use of the data;

  6. Furnish one copy (electronically) of a completed thesis or dissertation AND furnish an electronic copy of any articles published using MSL data;

  7. Any publications and/ or presentations must acknowledge the source of the data and refer the audience to the MSL website for more information.

MSL Support

  1. If a proposal is accepted, the researcher will sign an agreement to comply with the above conditions.

  2. The PI will furnish a copy of the approved IRB for use in local campus IRB processes.

  3. The researcher will be provided with a codebook of all variables in the data set including all scales (e.g., reverse scoring, scale construction).

  4. The PI will not be able to provide advising regarding research questions, statistical consulting for any proposals, nor assistance in drafting methods sections. Only basic information will be provided about the data. The assumption is that the user is capable of managing data without assistance. Additional consultation may be available for a separate consulting fee by an MSL team member or SoundRocket staff member. Co-authorship may be necessary if the PI or MSL team member provide substantial contributions to methods or other sections of the proposed study.

Receiving Data

Upon approval and acceptance of the terms of the agreement form, the data will be made available via a secure website.

We will make every attempt to respond to proposals in a timely manner. The MSL Team reserves the right to deny any requests that overlap with the existing research agenda.

Handling Fee

A data access fee of $500 will be assessed for any approved studies. This fee covers the labor associated with data preparation. Contact us for further instructions on how to handle this fee.

Further Questions?

Contact the MSL Research Team


NOTE: a downloadable PDF of  this information  is available here.