Everyday I get more questions about our survey, and about our data, and what we’ll be studying next!
I thought I’d try to answer that today in one central place.
We’ve done the largest and most comprehensive studies of marriage and sex on evangelical populations, and I know there’s been a lot of interest in our data.
Here are the surveys we’ve done:
- 20,000+ women that formed the basis of The Great Sex Rescue (at least 130 questions)
- 1,800 women (part of the 20,000) in a follow-up survey (20 questions)
- 3,000 men that formed the basis of The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex (along with the other survey data) (at least 90 questions)
- 7,500 women that will form the basis for our mother-daughter book, looking at how teenage experiences at church impact self-esteem, future relationships, and well-being (at least 110 questions)
We also are planning a completely different kind of survey for a marriage book coming up, but I’m going to keep that one under wraps for now!
I frequently get asked if we’ll look into other things--for instance how evangelical women or men compare with secular women or men–and while we’d love to, we have no specific plans for that. If I were to do more research, I’d really like to focus more on sexual debuts, and double down more on how the earliest experiences of sex affect one’s sexual satisfaction over the lifetime, so that we could teach couples better about how to start.
We likely will help a group of friends do a survey on divorce soon, but we ourselves don’t have a lot of plans to do too much more, because we’re already sitting on so much data that we haven’t mined yet.
How is the academic world receiving our data?
We have ethics approval from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, to submit peer reviewed publications. We’re currently working on two big ones in collaboration with other academics: One with Physical Therapy professor Lori Mize from the University of Southern Arkansas regarding our findings on vaginismus, and one with Andrew Whitehead of Purdue University on our findings as a whole from our women’s dataset.
Those papers are on hold because we have a book deadline of April 1, plus Joanna is moving from the Arctic to Edmonton, but we’re hoping to get going on that in May!
In the meantime, we have presented at the American Physical Therapy Convention in February, and The Great Sex Rescue was favorably reviewed in the October issue of the Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy.
The American subset of our women’s dataset, scrubbed of all identifying details, is also available at the ARDA for other researchers and journalists to use. Joanna had to write 1500 lines of code to get it ready, so that’s pretty amazing!
“Can I See Your Dataset for Myself?”
We get this question a lot, too, and one of the authors that we have been critiquing has also said that she is planning on reviewing our data to make sure we did things properly.
I think, quite frankly, that this represents a deep misunderstanding of how academia works, and also the nature of the dataset that we have.
1. We aren’t ethically allowed to share the dataset.
Part of getting ethics approval to pursue peer review is that we keep our dataset under wraps, because there is specific identifying information in it. We had to promise that we would keep it secure, password protected, and on computers rather than in the cloud. We put only a subset of our respondents and variables inot the dataset that went to the ARDA to protect confidentiality. If anyone wants to look at our dataset, that subset is what we can share ethically and it is already available on the ARDA
2. Our work is a “study”, not just a “survey”, because our primary findings are about not just frequency stats.
Let me explain the difference using Shaunti Feldhahn’s work as a comparison. Shaunti surveyed 1000 people in different nationally representative surveys (so she did not survey only married people or only Christians) for her books For Men Only, For Women Only , For Young Men Only, For Young Women Only. Her survey was only frequency numbers. She’d ask a question, like “do you prefer to be alone and unloved or inadequate and disrespected?”, and then she’d report how many answered each way. But she never took people who answered a certain way on one question to see how that affected their other answers.
For instance, when we tell you that women who believe the obligation sex message have a higher risk of vaginismus, those aren’t frequency stats but odds ratios. We have to look at the chance of vaginismus overall, and then the chance if you believe the obligation sex message when you get married, and then the chance if you don’t believe the obligation sex message when you get married. So we’re looking at just a subset of the data to see how things affect one another.
That’s a whole different level of analysis. You have to know how to measure confidence intervals, and how to tell if something is statistically significant or not. That’s what makes it a “study”.
3. Without a full stats education, you wouldn’t even be able to do anything with our dataset.
Again, this is not a simple frequency survey. This is a full-blown study. And as such, we’re using high level stats software to get our results. Joanna has written thousands of lines of code.
When people ask to see our dataset, Joanna is a little flabbergasted, because here is what the dataset looks like (this is a snapshot of non-identifying bits):
Think of twenty-thousand lines that look like that, spanning over 130 columns.
To even get it usable, Joanna writes lines of code using our operational definitions, which we’ve decided on beforehand after a thorough literature review, and it looks like this:
Once Joanna writes some code, she can get it in this form:
What people want, I think, is to see the dataset in pretty tables with all of Joanna’s code. But you see–we’ve done that. It’s in the books. And so that honestly is the best place to see our dataset. Here’s a chart from The Great Sex Rescue where we found a way to make it easier to interpret those tables:
Women Who Feel Their Voice Matters in Marriage Report Better Sex
When people say that they want to evaluate our dataset, and they honestly don’t know how to use stats, they’re actually being quite rude to Joanna, to be frank.
I couldn’t do the stuff Joanna does. This is high level stuff. For instance, here is a quick tutorial from Princeton University on how to use the main software that would be required. In order to be able to do anything with our dataset, this would have to look intuitive and obvious to you.
I know that the authors who are critiquing us and saying that they will look at our dataset and explain what we have done wrong do not have the education to understand Stata. So when you hear people saying that, please remember that this is a whole new level of statistical analysis. The only people qualified to speak on our research are people who understand this level of analysis. And we have already passed those tests with our acceptance in the ARDA and our work on the presentations with vaginismus.
4. Putting our dataset in the ARDA was a huge deal
I’m not sure if people understand this, but having this amount of data that can be worked with is actually worth a fair amount of money. Any one of the three of us could walk into a university with this data and be virtually guaranteed to get into a Ph.d. program, with funding. In fact, we’d have funding for the rest of our lives.
But we put it up at the ARDA for others to use because we felt it was important enough that other people get to work with our data too.
However, it is up at a place where academics, who know how to handle this kind of data, can access it. That’s the proper way to do it.
Will we be looking for other partnerships?
We would actually love some partnerships, because we’d love to get more peer reviewed papers out, but we only have so much time, and Joanna, who is our expert, is also the stay at home mom to two toddlers. So time is limited.
We would specifically be looking for professors or grad students who are willing to take the lead on some of this, and who are familiar with STATA, SPSS, SAS, etc, or at least would want to do literature reviews. We also have qualitative analysis that could be done on our focus groups, but again, it would have to be someone affiliated with a university working towards a peer reviewed paper. If you know of such a person, just let me know!
What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?
It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.
I do get asked about all of this quite a bit, and I wanted to have a quick post that we could send people to in order to understand what we’ve done.
And can I just take a moment to say how utterly in awe of Joanna I am?
Like seriously, she is wickedly smart. Rebecca and I ask her questions on FaceTime all the time, and she’ll be getting the four year old a sandwich while bouncing the toddler, and she’ll start mumbling totally incomprehensible stuff about chi-squares and coefficients, and then ten minutes later she’ll have an answer for us.
She’s really good at this. And the reason is because she has a ton of education in it, and she has been involved in multiple other studies and authored papers using this kind of statistical analysis before.
God sent her to us at just the right time, and we’re very grateful.
Joanna’s not on the blog side much, though we do talk to her several times a day. But if you want to get to know her better and ask her questions, the best way is to support us on Patreon!
It was our Patreon supporters who paid for the STATA software this year (we have to renew that every year!). It’s our Patreon supporters who are paying for Joanna’s time while we get these peer reviewed papers ready. Because we’re not associated with a university, we don’t have a way to get funding like most researchers would. So it’s your support that keeps us going, since we can’t monetize writing peer reviewed papers or writing thousands of lines of code to get in the ARDA.
You can support us for as little as $5 a month! And our private Facebook group is awesome, and we have unique merch, and more! Keith even started giving us $5 a month just so he could join the Facebook group because Rebecca and I were always talking about it!
So thank you for your support! I hope that makes what we do a little bit more understandable. And if you have any other questions, leave them in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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