Scaling State Machine Replication

Faculty of Informatics

Survey Methods and Questionnaire Design

The following workshop will be held by Professor Roberts on Week 2 (24 - 28 August, 2020)


Description of the workshop
This workshop is intended as an introduction to survey research methods and questionnaire design. It will consider the various steps involved in conducting a survey and the challenges that can arise along the way. In particular, it will introduce the concept of 'survey error', describe the main sources of error and how error impacts the accuracy of the data collected. It will present ways of minimizing the error through effective design decisions, to improve the validity and utility of research findings.

A significant component of survey error arises from the design of questionnaires, the method of questionnaire administration, and the way in which respondents answer questions when different methods are used. Much can be done to reduce such errors at relatively low cost. For this reason, the course will focus particularly on questionnaire design and testing. It will also consider methods to improve how well surveys represent populations of interest, drawing on survey methodological theory and best practice.

Participants will have the opportunity to work on practical activities designed to develop key skills involved in survey and questionnaire design, which may be applied to their on-going or future research projects.

The course is suitable for people starting out in survey research, whether they are responsible for designing and conducting surveys, analysing survey data or both. For those with more experience of survey research, the course introduces theories and insights from survey methodology to improve understanding of threats to the quality of survey data.

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. Particular focus will be placed on how to design effective questionnaires.

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

  • Make key decisions involved in designing and conducting a survey, and know how decisions made at each stage can affect the quality of the data produced
  • Complete the steps involved in developing and testing an effective survey questionnaire, following best-practice guidelines
  • Describe the key sources of survey error that affect the validity of research findings and plan procedures to minimize their impact.

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Introductory texts

Visser, P.S., Krosnick, J.A., Lavrakas, P.J., and Kim, N. (2014). Survey research. In H. T. Reis & C. M. Judd (Eds.), Handbook of research methods in social psychology (Second Edition). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Blair, J., Czaja, R.F., and Blair, E.A. (2014). Designing Surveys: A Guide to Decisions and Procedures (3rd Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Groves, R.M., Fowler Jr., F.J., Couper, M.P., Lepkowski, J.M., Singer, E., and Tourangeau, R. (2009). Survey Methodology (Wiley Series in Survey Methods), 2nd Ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
De Vaus, D. (2014). Surveys in Social Research (6th Edition). Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge.
Dillman, D., Smyth, J.D., and Christian, L.M. (2014). Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.