This specialization covers the fundamentals of surveys as used in market research, evaluation research, social science and political research, official government statistics, and many other topic domains. In six courses, you will learn the basics of questionnaire design, data collection methods, sampling design, dealing with missing values, making estimates, combining data from different sources, and the analysis of survey data. In the final Capstone Project, you’ll apply the skills learned throughout the specialization by analyzing and comparing multiple data sources.
Faculty for this specialisation comes from the Michigan Program in Survey Methodology and the Joint Program in Survey Methodology, a collaboration between the University of Maryland, the University of Michigan, and the data collection firm Westat, founded by the National Science Foundation and the Interagency Consortium of Statistical Policy in the U.S. to educate the next generation of survey researchers, survey statisticians, and survey methodologists. In addition to this specialization we offer short courses, a summer school, certificates, master degrees as well as PhD programs.
Framework for Data Collection and Analysis
This course will provide you with an overview over existing data products and a good understanding of the data collection landscape. With the help of various examples you will learn how to identify which data sources likely matches your research question, how to turn your research question into measurable pieces, and how to think about an analysis plan. Furthermore this course will provide you with a general framework that allows you to not only understand each step required for a successful data collection and analysis, but also help you to identify errors associated with different data sources. You will learn some metrics to quantify each potential error, and thus you will have tools at hand to describe the quality of a data source. Finally we will introduce different large scale data collection efforts done by private industry and government agencies, and review the learned concepts through these examples. This course is suitable for beginners as well as those that know about one particular data source, but not others, and are looking for a general framework to evaluate data products.
Data Collection: Online, Telephone and Face-to-face
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.
Questionnaire Design for Social Surveys
This course will cover the basic elements of designing and evaluating questionnaires. We will review the process of responding to questions, challenges and options for asking questions about behavioral frequencies, practical techniques for evaluating questions, mode specific questionnaire characteristics, and review methods of standardized and conversational interviewing.
Sampling People, Networks and Records
Good data collection is built on good samples. But the samples can be chosen in many ways. Samples can be haphazard or convenient selections of persons, or records, or networks, or other units, but one questions the quality of such samples, especially what these selection methods mean for drawing good conclusions about a population after data collection and analysis is done. Samples can be more carefully selected based on a researcher’s judgment, but one then questions whether that judgment can be biased by personal factors. Samples can also be draw in statistically rigorous and careful ways, using random selection and control methods to provide sound representation and cost control. It is these last kinds of samples that will be discussed in this course. We will examine simple random sampling that can be used for sampling persons or records, cluster sampling that can be used to sample groups of persons or records or networks, stratification which can be applied to simple random and cluster samples, systematic selection, and stratified multistage samples. The course concludes with a brief overview of how to estimate and summarize the uncertainty of randomized sampling.
Dealing With Missing Data
This course will cover the steps used in weighting sample surveys, including methods for adjusting for nonresponse and using data external to the survey for calibration. Among the techniques discussed are adjustments using estimated response propensities, poststratification, raking, and general regression estimation. Alternative techniques for imputing values for missing items will be discussed. For both weighting and imputation, the capabilities of different statistical software packages will be covered, including R®, Stata®, and SAS®.
Combining and Analyzing Complex Data
In this course you will learn how to use survey weights to estimate descriptive statistics, like means and totals, and more complicated quantities like model parameters for linear and logistic regressions. Software capabilities will be covered with R® receiving particular emphasis. The course will also cover the basics of record linkage and statistical matching—both of which are becoming more important as ways of combining data from different sources. Combining of datasets raises ethical issues which the course reviews. Informed consent may have to be obtained from persons to allow their data to be linked. You will learn about differences in the legal requirements in different countries.
Survey Data Collection and Analytics Project (Capstone)
The Capstone Project offers qualified learners to the opportunity to apply their knowledge by analyzing and comparing multiple data sources on the same topic. Students will develop a research question, access and analyze relevant data, and critically examine the quality of each data source. At the completion of this capstone, students will have demonstrated hands-on data analysis capability, evaluated the quality of different data sources using the Total Survey Error approach, involving at least some of the following: comparing weighted non-probability samples to data collected from probability samples, using sampling techniques to correct for coverage errors, and tracking and assess the ease of using an online questionnaire that you implement.
Introductory statistics knowledge does help, for the later courses.