Detail from "the second line," a painting by Bob Graham. For more about the artist, click here.

Short Courses

Social Media Research Methods

Instructor: Reg Baker, Market Strategies International

The model for social research for the better part of the last century has been one that relies heavily on designing surveys and asking questions. Over about the last five years, the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies and social media applications has created the opportunity for a new type of research, one that is more focused on listening to people talk about issues of concern to them in natural conversation rather than drawing them into structured surveys and asking them questions. This type of research is not likely to replace surveys any time soon, but it might help to improve survey design, yield insights that may be difficult to uncover with traditional survey methods and even provide access to people who otherwise may be difficult to reach in meaningful numbers.

This course is designed for survey researchers interested in learning more about social media research (SMR). Its objective is to increase attendees' understanding of the potential opportunities and drawbacks of SMR. We will address the key issues a survey researcher faces when considering SMR, either as a complement to or a replacement for traditional research. We will discuss the different types of social media platforms (social networking sites, blogs, microblogs, online communities, etc.) and their potential use in research as well as the emerging research methods appropriate to each.

Designing and Developing Instruments Across Cultures and Languages

Instructor: Peter Mohler, University of Mannheim

The course focuses on explaining and demonstrating aspects of questionnaire design and version production of special importance when conducting research across cultures and languages. Research on cultural and linguistic minorities, who may or may not qualify as H2R for a given context, often takes place within such a framework, as does multilingual research. Existing instruments may need to be adapted in multiple ways for a given population and often also need to be translated. Even instruments developed especially for a minority population may be developed in one language but administered in another. In multilingual studies, comparability across instruments in different languages is a basic design requirement

The sparse and often widely dispersed literature available on development of such instruments makes it difficult to learn how to best to plan the development and evaluation of studies with special cultural and linguistic components. The course draws together the essentials of current best practice for instrument development for cross-cultural, cross-lingual studies, presenting, with examples, procedures and protocols for design, adaptation, translation, and, in condensed form, various stages of evaluation including basic design, pretesting across languages, and versions assessment in different languages.

Attendees should have a good understanding of the general principles of questionnaire design, as those will have to be assumed in order to deal in the course with cross-cultural, cross-lingual aspects. The course is relevant for those involved in or expecting to be involved in designing or assessing instruments for cross-lingual, cross-cultural research, or to be used with populations with special linguistic and cultural considerations.

Respondent Driven Sampling

Instructor: Matthias Schonlau, University of Waterloo, Canada; RAND

Respondent driven sampling (RDS) is a sampling technique typically employed for hard-to-reach populations (e.g. HIV populations, drug users, men who have sex with men, jazz musicians, immigrants). Briefly, initial seed respondents recruit additional respondents from their network of friends. The recruiting process repeats iteratively, thereby forming long referral chains. It is crucial to obtain estimates of respondents' network size (e.g. number of friends with the characteristic of interest) and to know who recruited whom. RDS shares some similarities with snowball sampling, but the theoretical foundation for inference using RDS samples is much stronger. We will give an overview over this technique and its assumptions and introduce software to analyze RDS data (using Stata). This short course is an introduction. At the conclusion participants will be able to judge under what circumstances RDS may be appropriate, know how to collect data and what challenges to look out for, and how to conduct standard RDS analyses.


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