Germany, Cologne

Planning and Monitoring Survey Fieldwork: Balancing Survey Errors

when 22 August 2016 - 26 August 2016
language English
duration 1 week
credits 4 ECTS
fee EUR 250

Obtaining high data quality within given budget and time constraints is a very challenging task. This course is meant to introduce participants to practical insights into the challenges and pitfalls of how to optimize a survey design, given a research question, while taking time and budget constraints into account and how to evaluate survey data with respect to fitness for purpose. Optimal allocation of funds and total quality management are key issues in this area. The course will cover the choices that have to be made with respect to the survey design and the implementation of fieldwork before and during survey data collection. Design and implementation choices cover the choice of data collection modes, efforts to enhance response rates in order to reduce nonresponse errors, effective and efficient fieldwork strategies, the choice to collect auxiliary data to adjust for nonresponse and the training of interviewers in order to reduce interviewer effects. The course will also discuss the consequences of the design and implementation choices on the different sources of errors (sampling, coverage, nonresponse, and measurement error) and how they relate to fitness for purpose. During the course we will discuss and participants will learn how to minimize and assess survey errors in practice. Students are encouraged to work on their own research project, both in the design phase of their project and in the analyses of their own data, if available. The latter is however not a requirement. Students can also work on exercises available for the course.
You can find the full syllabus of the course with complete information on the topics, literature, and day-to-day schedule on

Course leader

Remco Feskens, PhD is senior research scientist at the research department of Cito, the National Institute for Educational Measurement in the Netherlands;
Dr. Joost Kappelhof is survey methodologist at The Netherlands Institute for Social Research/SCP.

Target group

Participants will find the course useful if they:
- are planning to conduct or to design a (large-scale) survey;
- wish to evaluate the quality of data collected by a survey;
- wish to take design issues into account when analyzing survey data.

- basic understanding of survey methodology (this could be gained in the course “Introduction to Survey Design” in the first week);
- prior knowledge of SPSS or Stata is preferred but not required.

Course aim

By the end of the course participants will be familiar with:
- the main survey design issues;
- ways to enhance response rates;
- the main risks of nonresponse bias;
- the basic concepts around total survey error;
- ways to minimize and assess survey errors in practice;
- strategies of optimizing a survey design given budget constraints.

Credits info

- Certificate of attendance issued upon completion.
Optional bookings:
- 2 ECTS points via the University of Mannheim for regular attendance and satisfactory work on daily assignments (EUR 20).
- 4 ECTS points via the University of Mannheim for regular attendance and satisfactory work on daily assignments and for submitting a paper/report of about 5000 words to the lecturer(s) up to 4 weeks after the end of the summer school (EUR 50).

Fee info

EUR 250: Student/PhD student rate.
EUR 350: Academic/non-profit rate.
Early bird discount: EUR 50 for applicants who book and pay by April 30.
The rates include the tuition fee, course materials, the academic program, access to library and IT facilities, coffee/tea, and a number of social activities.


10 DAAD scholarships are available via the Center for Doctoral Studies in Social and Behavioral Sciences (CDSS) at the University of Mannheim.