Wednesday, October 17, 2007

WLA Conference - Applying Survey Methodology in the Real World

Thomas Walker, Associate Dean, UW Milwaukee SOIS)

Teaches Research Methods, the room was very, very full (about 45-50).

He noted that UIUC also does library research (part of where he learned about surveying), for a fee, as will other consultants. He promised to also talk about the way research reports are reflected in the media. Below is a rough transcription of his presentation with some additional notes.

Introduction to Surveys
  • What are they?
  • How to plan a survey
  • How to collect data
  • Sampling
  • Questionnaires
  • Questions
Surveys: a formal method of gtathering informationk about a group of poeple through a sample, A carefully chosen sampl can be used to project results to a larger population

They are NOT collected from 100%; from a self selected group; collect from a group njust because that "sample" is easy to get data from

Data is gathered systematically using standardized procedures, not associated with individuals, but creates a composite profile of the whole group

Library Surveys usually are to assist in the planning process: identify needs, perceptions of what libraries are and should be, etc.

Surveys and methods of collection:
  • telephone
  • mail
  • in-person at the library or other location
  • website or email
  • while methods of data collection can be used to describe the type of survey, methods should not be the main reason a sample is chosen
Planning a survey
  1. Development [establishes parameters]
  2. Pre-test [important step]
  3. Final Draft Plan and survey
  4. Implementation
  5. Coding
  6. Analysis and reporting
Development: define budget, staffing, time; define outcomes; broadly define population and sample; draft data collection method; draft questionnaire

Pre-test [should this be one word or two?]: More clearly define population and sample; refine questionnaire; pretest again; evaluate pretests and continue or pretest again

Final draft of plan and survey
  • Finalize population and sample
  • Prepare final questionnaire
  • Organize logistics of implementation
Implementation: select sample; collect data

Coding: evaluate the validity of data (remove invalid responses and otherwise clean up); prepare data for analysis (code)

Analysis: prepare data sets and subsets; analyze data

Final reporting: contextualize data in pre-established framework of survey plan; prepare report

Two Critical Tasks

  • Questionnaire Design
  • Sampling
Questionnaires: define what kind of information is required and from whom do you need data;break down complex problems into very simple ones; create clear simple questions, not complex ones; may be self administered or done by an interviewer; should be introduced to let the respondent know what the purpose is, who will analyze it, and whether the results will be made public; should conclude by expressing appreciation; should be written at an appropriate reading level

Confidentiality: statements assuring confidentiality are desirable and may be required; inform respondents that responses are voluntary; if children are involved, extra precautions must be taken

Clear simple questions: scales may be useful (on a scale of 1 to 5...); multiple choice may be clear, if all possible choices have been anticipated; open-ended questions can yield rich data, but are difficult to analyze or quantify; questions should be pre-tested; special terms should be defined

How to Sample
  • Define overall population
  • Determine accurate ways to sample the population
  • There is not one magic formula for determining sample size
Confidence level is important.

  • Factors include how exact data needs to be, budget, time, ease of administration

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