Survey Methods

Prof. Cautrès is an excellent and engaging professor! I highly recommend him and his course to others. — participant from the U.S.

This course teaches participants the skills necessary to design and implement surveys and to analyze and interpret social and political survey data. It covers all the fundamental and practical issues that one encounters when designing, conducting, and analyzing interviews and survey, whether as a graduate students or early-career academic, researcher or policy-maker, social scientist or social worker, public health specialist, or manager in the public or private sector. Independent of their specific background, participants learn how to develop different research designs for interviews and surveys, how to design questions for interviews and questionnaires, and how to analyze interview data using sophisticated, multivariate statistical techniques.


Dates

This course was offered in 2014 and 2015.


Instructor

Bruno Cautrès (picture), Sciences Po Paris


Detailed Description

Surveys and polls provide much of the data we use to understand the world around us. They are fundamental to the study of public opinion, socio-political attitudes, and behavior and are used a wide variety of fields, including business and economics, political science and sociology, education, public health, international development, and journalism. Surveys allow researchers to track social values, behavior, attitudes, and norms between individuals and groups and over time, and the 'globalization' of public opinion research has stimulated the quantitative and comparative analysis of political values, social cleavages, and attitudes around the globe.

This course is designed to teach participants the skills necessary to design and implement surveys and to use and interpret survey data. It covers all the fundamental and practical issues that social scientists encounter when designing, conducting, and analyzing interviews and survey. Participants learn how to develop different research designs for interviews and surveys, how to design questions for interviews and questionnaires, and how to analyze interview data using sophisticated, multivariate statistical techniques. By the end of the course, students should not only be able to critically assess the quality of existing survey data, but to design and conduct their own, original surveys.

The first part of the course deals with survey methodology and the design and execution of surveys. It covers such topics as research design, sample design, questionnaire development, fieldwork methodologies, and data collection issues. Participants gain a comprehensive understanding of the survey research and interview process. Whether as a consumer or producer of research, participants will be able to assess the quality of surveys. Gaining an understanding of the different ways of conducting survey research, including face-to-face, internet, postal, and telephone interviews, they learn how to conduct their own high quality surveys.

The second part deals with the analysis of survey data. It covers the fundamental links between concepts, measures, and empirical data in the context of survey research, including specifying the key constructs, developing indicators of key constructs, and developing attitudinal scales. In particular, participants learn how to clean and check their data, how to construct indicators and scales, and how to conduct statistical analyses. They gain experience in analyzing survey data with a wide variety of statistical tools. We cover simple tools of univariate statistics and measures of association for two-variables and study how to apply regression models (linear, logistic, log-linear) and data reduction techniques (latent variables, factor analysis) using the statistical software Stata. Participants learn the fundamental statistical techniques used to analyze surveys as well as to recognize and address the practical problems encountered when using them.

While the focus of this course is on the production and analysis of 'quantitative' data, we also cover qualitative interviews and the different ways to analyze them. We discuss the respective strengths and weaknesses, limits and potentials of quantitative and qualitative surveys and data.

The course consists of lectures, exercises, and assignments. For hands-on training, we work with various surveys and data sets, e.g., the World Values Studies, European Social Survey, Asian Barometer (a study of public opinion in different Asian countries, including Singapore).


Prerequisites

There are no formal prerequisites for this course. However, a basic background in quantitative methods guarantees that participants take the most out of the second part of this course.


Requirements

Participants are expected to bring a WiFi-enabled laptop computer. Access to data, temporary licenses for the course software, and installation support will be provided by the Methods School.


Core Readings

de Vaus, David. 2013. Surveys in Social Research. 6th edition. New York, NY: Routledge.

Agresti, Alan, and Barbara Finlay. 2008. Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences. 4th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.


Suggested Readings

Groves, Robert M., Floyd J. Fowler, Mick P. Couper, James M. Lepkowski, Eleanor Singer, and Roger Tourangeau. 2009. Survey Methodology. 2nd edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Fink, Arlene G., ed. 2002. The Survey Kit. 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Alreck, Pamela L., and Robert B. Settle. 2003. The Survey Research Handbook. 3rd edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Behling, Orlando, Kenneth S. Law. 2000. Translating Questionnaires and Other Research Instruments: Problems and Solutions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Firebaugh, Glenn. 1997. Analyzing Repeated Surveys. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Bourque, Linda B., and Virginia A. Clark. 1992. Processing Data: The Survey Example. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Saris, Willem E. 1991. Computer-assisted Interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Converse, Jean M., and Stanley Presser. 1986. Survey Questions: Handcrafting the Standardized Questionnaire. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Harkness, Janet A., Fons J.R. Van De Vijver, Peter P. Mohler, eds. 2003. Cross-cultural Survey Methods. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.