Swiss Summer School 2018


Caroline Robers
Survey Methods

Caroline Roberts is Assistant Professor in Survey Methodology in the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lausanne. She teaches courses on survey research methods and questionnaire design for the joint MA in Public Opinion and Survey Methodology offered by the Universities of Lausanne, Neuchâtel, and Lucerne, and an undergraduate seminar in quantitative methods. Her research interests relate to the measurement and reduction of different types of survey error, particularly in mixed mode surveys, and to ways of improving the measurement of social attitudes. She has a PhD in Social Psychology and Masters in Social Research Methods from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has worked in the coordinating teams of a number of large-scale surveys, including the European Social Survey at City University, London, and the American National Election Studies at Stanford University.

Description of the workshop

This course is intended as an introduction to survey research methods. The course will explore all stages of a survey project: the initial planning phase, defining a target population, deciding on a suitable sampling strategy, selecting a method of data collection, designing the questionnaire, conducting fieldwork, selecting methods to improve response rates, evaluating data quality and preparing and documenting survey data.

Students will be introduced to fundamental principles and key insights from the field of survey methodology that form the basis of standard practices in the field and inform our understanding of how the quality of survey data is affected by the interaction between human behaviour and different features of survey design. Key to this perspective is the concept of 'Total Survey Error', which provides a framework for discussing the various processes involved in implementing a survey, the ways in which these processes may affect the quality of the data produced, and methods for controlling quality under given resource constraints.

As well as considering optimal ways to design and conduct surveys, we will also discuss current challenges and opportunities for survey researchers in the digital age. Students will have the opportunity to work on practical activities designed to develop key skills involved in survey practice, which may be applied to their on-going research projects.

Course objectives

The overall aim of the course is to provide students with an introduction to the theory and practice of survey research, and the tools needed to conduct independent survey projects of high quality.

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  1. Describe the various stages involved in designing and conducting a survey, and know how to approach each stage when designing their own survey projects
  2. Complete the steps involved in developing and testing an effective survey questionnaire, following best-practice guidelines
  3. Draw on the Total Survey Error framework to evaluate how different aspects of a survey's design can influence the quality of data.

Introductory texts



There are no prerequisites for this course.

Workshop contents and objectives

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EH Last update: 25.01.2018