This course presents research conducted to increase our understanding of how data collection decisions affect survey errors. This is not a “how–to-do-it” course on data collection, but instead reviews the literature on survey design decisions and data quality in order to sensitize learners to how alternative survey designs might impact the data obtained from those surveys.
The course reviews a range of survey data collection methods that are both interview-based (face-to-face and telephone) and self-administered (paper questionnaires that are mailed and those that are implemented online, i.e. as web surveys). Mixed mode designs are also covered as well as several hybrid modes for collecting sensitive information e.g., self-administering the sensitive questions in what is otherwise a face-to-face interview. The course also covers newer methods such as mobile web and SMS (text message) interviews, and examines alternative data sources such as social media. It concentrates on the impact these techniques have on the quality of survey data, including error from measurement, nonresponse, and coverage, and assesses the tradeoffs between these error sources when researchers choose a mode or survey design.
Module 1: Introduction, Classic Modes of Survey Data Collection
In this lesson, you will be introduced to some key concepts about survey data collection methods that we will rely on throughout the course. By the end of this lesson, you should be well acquainted with the major sources of survey error and how these are affected -- usually in the form of tradeoffs -- by the particular mode used to administer questions and capture responses.
Module 2: Self-administration, Online Data Collection
This second lesson focuses on modes in which survey respondents self-administer questions and provide their responses directly to researchers. By the end of Lesson 2, you will understand the pros and cons of self-administered modes from the TSE perspective.
Module 3: Interviewers and Interviewing
In this lesson, we explore the various roles interviewers take on beside asking questions and collecting answers, as well as some of the different approaches to interviewing that have been proposed and how they affect the accuracy of responses. By the end of Lesson 3, you will appreciate the benefits and costs of collecting data in interviews and will be able to contrast them with the costs and benefits of self-administration.
Module 4: Emerging modes, new data sources
In this lesson, we focus on some new data collection modes such as mobile web surveys and SMS text interviews, as well as alternative data sources such as sensor data, administrative data, and social media. By the end of this lesson, you will have a sense of the issues to which survey methodologists and survey researchers are devoting much of their attention these days. You will be able to weigh the pros and cons of these new methods and data sources.