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.