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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

WC104 - Survey Design

Instructor Details

Instructor Photo

Roula Nezi

University of Surrey

Instructor Bio

Roula Nezi is Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Surrey, UK. Her research follows two broad themes: the effect of policy change on political attitudes, and the impact of economic factors on political outcomes.

In recent years, Roula has conducted research in a wide range of comparative European projects on political representation, political behaviour, and political elites. She is currently leading a project on the support of authoritarian beliefs and the vote for rightwing populist parties among young cohorts in Europe, and a project on 'contagious populism' funded by the University of Surrey.

Her research has been published in the British Journal of Political Science, the Journal of European Social Policy, Europe-Asia Studies, and Electoral Studies.

Her research interests lie in public opinion and political attitudes, political representation, and political accountability. She is also interested in political methodology, including comparative analysis and survey design.

Twitter @roula_nezi

Course Dates and Times

Monday 5 to Friday 9 March 2018
15 hours over 5 days

Prerequisite Knowledge
  • This course focuses on survey research design, it is not a course in survey data analysis
  • No previous experience in survey research is required. A general background about survey research and/or experience in conducting surveys will be beneficial, however.
  • An introduction to programming an online survey in Lime Survey, Qualtrics, or Survey Monkey will be provided
Short Outline

Surveys ask a lot of people a lot of questions. They are arguably the most popular method of data collection as it is supposedly straight forward to run a survey. However, in practice, designing survey collecting good quality data is a lot more complex. This course provides in-depth guidelines to survey research design embedding and discussing the so-called Total Survey Error (TSE) Framework. The course will provide the theoretical background of the TSE and critically evaluate the full survey life cycle against this theory. We will discuss the core of idea of survey sampling and trade-offs between probability and non-probability samples; mode selection; question and questionnaire design, fieldwork implementation; and effects of response and non-response. Throughout the course’s focus especially lays on online survey designs. However, we will discuss online surveys against the benefits and challenges of other modes of data collection as well as mixed mode designs. The content will be applicable to surveys of individuals, households, and organisation


Tasks for ECTS Credits

  • Participants attending the course: 2 credits (pass/fail grade) The workload for the calculation of ECTS credits is based on the assumption that students attend classes and carry out the necessary reading and/or other work prior to, and after, classes.
  • Participants attending the course and completing one task (see below): 3 credits (to be graded)
  • Participants attending the course, and completing two tasks (see below): 4 credits (to be graded)
  1. Take-home or seated exam
  2. Take-home paper
Long Course Outline

Why survey design and the online lifecycle?

  • You want to ask a lot of people (a lot of) questions?
  • You have never heard of the Total Survey Error?
  • You always wanted a tailored design of some kind, but you feel your sample is limited?
  • You fear CAPI, CASI, CATI, and CAWI put you in a bad “mode”?
  • You frequently question questions and questionnaires?
  • You always run out of appropriate filters?
  • You think most things happen online anyway?
  • You cannot get the “grids” on the radio buttons?
  • You like to mix it up?


  • Theoretical Framework
    • This course provides in-depth guidelines to survey research design embedding and discussing the so-called Total Survey Error (TSE) Framework.
    • Critical discussion of all stages of the TSE
    • Critically evaluate the full survey life cycle against the TSE Framework.
  • Survey Design
    • Sampling designs and error including trade-offs between probability and non-probability samples
    • Modes of data collection including benefits and challenges of each mode
    • Question and questionnaire design
  • (Online) Survey Implementation
    • Fieldwork preparation, implementation, and monitoring
    • Pretesting
    • Response and non-response
    • Special focus on online implementation using Lime Survey, Qualtrics, Survey Monkey
  • Survey Documentation & Archiving
    • Response rates reporting
    • Preparing transparent documents for survey documentation
    • Dealing with archiving survey data


  • The course provides an applied and interactive learning approach
    • Participants will learn from some of the mistakes that existing surveys projects made
    • Participants are asked to make suggestions for improvement of these survey designs on the basis of what they have learned about each stage of the survey lifecycle
    • All participants are encouraged to work on their own survey projects during the week; they will be able to obtain detailed feedback on their work from the instructor

What you will take home…

  • Knowledge & understanding
    • A comprehensive knowledge of the full (online) survey life cycle
    • A systematic understanding of the Total Survey Error (TSE) framework
    • The ability to critically evaluate (online) survey designs
  • Skills
    • The ability to design a (online) survey
    • The technical skills to implement a (online) survey
    • The capability to manage and transparently document a (online) survey
  • Values & attitudes
    • A sound understanding of the relevance of (online) surveys in the social sciences
    • Recognition of the importance of integrity when designing, implementing, and managing survey as well as and reporting survey research
    • The ability to learn independently in response to self-reflection on your understanding of the principles and application of (online) survey research methodology

…and what you will not take home

  • As this is a course on survey research design, you will not get an in-depth introduction to survey data analysis. The instructor will be able to point you relevant software and introductory literature focusing on the special requirements of survey data analysis.
  • It is also not a course in statistics. Some more technical background will be covered when we discuss sampling procedure, however.
  • The course focuses on standardised quantitative interviews. It is not a course on conducting (semi-) structured qualitative interviews.
Day-to-Day Schedule

Day-to-Day Reading List

Software Requirements


Hardware Requirements

Participants should bring their own laptops with an updated browser (flashplayer etc.) for online survey programming. Mac and Windows laptops are fine.


See Readings as indicated.

The following other ECPR Methods School courses could be useful in combination with this one in a ‘training track .
Recommended Courses After

Winter and Summer School

Course in (survey) data analysis in SPSS, Stata or R

Additional Information


This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc). Registered participants will be informed in due time.

Note from the Academic Convenors

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, contact the instructor before registering.

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