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Introduction to the ESRC Question Bank and ESRC Survey Link Scheme Julie Lamb and Martin Bulmer Department of Sociology University.

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to the ESRC Question Bank and ESRC Survey Link Scheme Julie Lamb and Martin Bulmer Department of Sociology University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to the ESRC Question Bank and ESRC Survey Link Scheme Julie Lamb and Martin Bulmer Department of Sociology University of Surrey

2 Aims of the presentation Introduction The Question Bank – a brief introduction Advantages and disadvantages of using available questions The Survey Link Scheme

3 What is the Qb? Established in 1996 when there were few online survey resources and questionnaires were often hard to find – 2005 part of Centre for Applied Social Surveys Now a stand alone resource funded by ESRC at the University of Surrey

4 Who is it for? Aimed at; Researchers devising survey questions Secondary data analysts Teachers and students of research methods

5 Qb Key Aims 1.Bridge the gap of understanding between survey professionals and academic researchers; 2.Provide standardised quantitative measures of key variables; 3.Capture key survey instruments; and 4.Be freely available online (no registration)

6 What material do we hold? –Questionnaires from important social surveys –Question background material –Commentary on topics and concepts –NO DATA! Three main areas of the site; –Surveys –Topics –Resources

7 Surveys 58 surveys covering wide topic range 1991 onwards National probability samples Linked to data sets at UK Data Archive Overviews and resources

8 Questionnaires All in original format CAPI PDF files for easy download Chunked for easy navigation Related material, e.g. diaries, advance letters


10 Topics 22 Key social science topic areas Commentary on social measurement in those areas Key Variables chapters ESDS resources Links Bibliographies

11 Resources All about the QB! (User Guide) CAPI explained Harmonisation Booklets Survey Link Scheme Teaching presentations Contact details

12 Searching the QB 40,000 pages, 58 Surveys, 22 Topics = A lot of material !! Three strategies –Surveys menu (going directly to the required file) –Topics menu –The Search Engine

13 The Search Engine –Indexes entire site everyday and creates a database for user to search –Searches HTML and PDF documents –Highlights ALL keywords –Directs you to the file (you need Adobe Reader) -Search by Year and Survey if desired




17 Priorities for Nov 2005 – Aug 08 Updating and expansion of existing content Work to enhance the Topic area of the site Include a limited selection of European surveys Research into how CAPI should be represented Research into the effects on users of the DDI (nb – Qb has now joined the DDI alliance) Continue to outreach to UK and International academic and research communities

18 Uses of questions –Ready-made questions –Traceable route – from analysis back to questions –Check for validity and reliability of questions –Use existing questions to develop concepts

19 Using Questions… Examples of Question use by researchers: –Locating specific variable in a dataset –Taking example of questions from existing surveys –Finding out about a survey not carried out in your department / research area –Tendering for a survey / applying for funding –Responding to queries from policy makers / customers

20 Advantages The questions are likely to be good indicators of the original measurement concept, and include response categories Look at the show cards, advance letters, survey design and so on Comparisons to other surveys in the field Savings in terms of; –Costs – no developers needed –Time – researching and testing –No pilot testing needed of individual questions (still of the whole questionnaire though) In many cases you can see the response rates to the question using NESSTAR



23 Disadvantages Might not find exactly what you need (or may measure wrong concept) Context within the Blaise questionnaire (routing) Need a very good understanding of the original context (takes time to read and find) Copyright issues (especially with instruments)

24 What does a CAPI questionnaire look like on paper? Blaise codes either left in or taken out –If left in the questions are difficult to follow –If taken out there is no way for the researcher to see the routing Most research reports with a questionnaire at the back have a modified version of the Blaise codes



27 Using the Qb: Summary Readily accessible bank of questions Entire surveys available for download Questions –Process of operationalisation already proofed –Benchmarked officially –Tried and tested in the field –Chunked ready for download

28 Feedback Help us to develop the Qb resource Online user survey Contact us: Join the mailing list!

29 The Survey Link Scheme Qb works very closely with the SLS team Provide training days in survey data collection focusing particularly on CAPI and upon its use in one particular major survey in each workshop Try to arrange for participants from training days to go out with an interviewer in the field Survey Link Scheme

30 What is involved? Attending a 1-Day Workshop at the Regional location of your choice An optional fieldwork visit with an Interviewer within NATCEN, ONS, ISER, and BMRB Submitting a short comment on the experience Travel expenses are paid

31 Workshops The one day includes: A brief overview of the BLAISE computer program used in the development of questionnaires Construction of the questionnaire and practical discussion on interviewing A Survey Organisations presentation on the use of CAPI on a major survey undertaken by the major organisations

32 Survey Link Scheme Current Workshop Programme

33 Organisations in the Scheme Office for National Statistics (ONS) National Centre for Social Research (NATCEN) Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), University of Essex in collaboration with NOP BMRB INTERNATIONAL

34 The surveys Health Survey for England Millennium Cohort Study British Household Panel Survey General Household Survey Family Resources Survey Families and Children Survey Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey

35 Who Benefits? Social Science Researchers Post Graduate Students: –MSc. –Ph.D. Teachers of Research Methods Researchers (non-Academic)

36 Currently few Social Research Methods Courses for postgraduates provide more than a general treatment of Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI). Even fewer, if any, provide training in the use of the BLAISE software - normally used to construct the CAPI scripts produced by the major survey organisations. Survey Link Scheme Why Apply…..

37 Secondary analysts sometimes forget where the data come from, and tend to lose the focus: …… or interpret them according to their mental schemes. The knowledge of how a survey is organised from the start will stand me in good stead when next making use of the data and particularly ……… deciding on the sort of questions to be asked. My own work uses qualitative methods …really valuable to gain an insight into data collection …on a large quantitative survey Survey Link Scheme Why Apply?

38 Details of most of the surveys may be found in the Question Bank, a Web resource at The SLS pages are updated as the Scheme develops with the Survey Organisations. Survey Link Scheme Further details

39 Contacts Online: Tel:

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