Introduction to Survey Methods: Doing and Analysing Surveys Data

Prof. Dr. Bruno Cautrès

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 and behavior, and are used a diverse variety of fields, including those related to business, economics, education, public health, international development, and others. Surveys of economic, social and political phenomena allow researchers to track social values, behaviour, attitudes.

This course is designed to teach participants the skills necessary to implement, use, and interpret survey data. It covers the fundamental and practical issues that social scientists encounter when designing, conducting and analysing survey. Participants learn how to develop different research designs for interviews and surveys, how to design questions for interviews and questionnaires, and how to analyse data. By the end of the course, students should be able to assess the quality of survey data, as well as the ability to design and conduct an original survey. The level of the course ranges from introductory to intermediate. 

The course organization is based on the two objectives of the course: how surveys are done and how surveys are analyzed. Each day of the course is divided according these two objectives, with part of the day on ‘how to do’ and part of the day on ‘how to analyse’. The topics covered like this represent an very complete overview on surveys techniques: on one side (‘how to do surveys’): research design, sample design, questionnaire development, fieldwork methodologies, data collection issues ; on the other side (‘how to analyse’) : data cleaning and checking, construction of indicators and scale analysis, statistical analysis from simple cross tabulation analysis to regression and factor analysis.  The dominant focus of the two weeks is about ‘quantitative data’ but there will be some opening to qualitative interviews and the way to analyse it. 

Participants will:

  • gain a comprehensive understanding of the full survey research process. Whether as a user, consumer or producer of research, participants will be able to assess the quality of existing surveys and be able, after the course, to conduct their own high quality survey
  • gain an understanding of the different ways of conducting survey research, including face-to-face, internet, postal and telephone interviews
  • learn about 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 following principles of questionnaire design
  • gain experience in analysing survey data with statistical tools, covering regression models and factor analysis

The course format will include lectures, discussions based on readings and pratical examples of surveys data analysis. The interactivity of the course is priviledged as well as its pratical perspective. No strong pre-requisite is necessary and the course. In case of need, some remedial sessions can be organized for those who need some recall in social research methods or basic quantitative techniques. 

For whom is the course?

This course provides an introduction to the methodology of the design and analysis of economic, social and political surveys. It is intended both for participants who plan to design and collect their own surveys, and for those who need to understand and use data from existing surveys.  The course participants may come from different horizons and disciplines: students, graduate students, early career academic researchers, young researchers, experienced policymakers, social scientists, social workers, managers in the public and private sector, whether as users or producers of research and development

The course will use the following textbook:

David De Vaus. Survey in social research. Routledge, 2013, 6th edition. Paperback edition is available. 

According to its description, « David de Vaus' classic text Surveys in Social Research provides clear advice on how to plan, conduct and analyse social surveys. It emphasises the links between theory and research, the logic and interpretation of statistics and the practices of social research ». This is true! This textbook is one of the most complete and simple presentation on the doing + the analysis of surveys.  Some supplementary readings will be advised and proposed when needed also. When possible (because of copyrights issues) electronic versions of those readings will be distributed.  But the basic readings activities of the class will consist in the readings and discussion about major chapters of the textbook.