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Science and the Management of Surveys (308241)*Roger Tourangeau, Westat
It is now possible to manage surveys using statistical models and other tools that can be applied in real time. This talk describes three developments that reflect the attempt to take a scientific approach to the management of survey field work: 1) the use of adaptive and responsive designs to reduce nonresponse error; 2) optimal routing of interviewer travel to reduce costs; and 3) rapid feedback to interviewers to reduce measurement error. The talk reviews studies examining the effectiveness of adaptive and responsive designs (which attempt to reduce the variation in response propensities across different members of a sample). It also examines efforts to provide interviewers with a recommended route for their next trip to the field. The aim is to bring interviewers’ field work into closer alignment with research priorities while reducing travel time. Finally, it describes attempts to give rapid feedback to interviewers, based on recordings of their interviews. Interviewers often read questions in ways that affect respondents’ answers; correcting these problems quickly can yield marked improvements in data quality. Interviewers in face-to-face surveys can affect all major sources of survey error and the studies reviewed attempt to reduce the impact of the interviewers on the survey results.