Quick and Dirty Covid-19 Online Surveys: Why?

Everyone seems to be an epidemiologist these days. I have long lost count on the surveys that land in my inbox.  It’s clear that the internet has made it very cheap to field surveys, especially surveys where questions of sampling  don’t seem to be relevant to those fielding the surveys. It’s also clear that tools like SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics make it easy to field surveys quickly. But that’s no excuse for some of the surveys I’ve seen:

  • surveys with no apparent flow between questions
  • surveys where the e-mail makes it clear that they are desperate to get any answers
  • surveys with incomplete flow logic (see example below)
  • surveys that ask hardly anything about the respondent (like age, sex, education, location)
  • surveys that throw in about any instrument that could be vaguely related to how people respond to Covid-19 (with no apparent focus; which is bound to find ‘interesting’ and statistically ‘significant’ results)
  • double negatives in questions
  • two questions in one

For example, how should I answer this required question at the bottom here? What if I assume corruption is evenly spread across all sectors, or not present at all?

I understand that we want to get numbers on the various ways Covid-19 affected us, but with surveys like these we’re not going to learn anything because they do not allow meaningful inferences. In that case, it’s sometimes better not to run a survey then pretending to have data.

C4P: Workshop on Survey Experiments in Migration and Integration Research

Flavia Fossati and I are organizing an international workshop on “Survey Experiments in Migration and Integration Research” and would like to cordially invite you to contribute a paper to this event, which will be hosted at the University of Lausanne (IDHEAP) on June 4-5th 2020.

This is the third meeting of a series of international workshops previously held in Switzerland at the Universities of Lausanne and Berne that aim at gathering experts on the topic and to have in-depth discussions on their work in progress.

In this edition of the Survey Experiment in Migration and Integration Research, we will have a few different panels that focus on the survey experiment methodology and others that focus more on the immigration and integration research that is carried out by means of such experimental methods.

The event will be accompanied by two keynote speeches, one by Prof. Katrin Auspurg (University of Munich) and Prof. Donald Green (Columbia University).

Please apply by following this link: http://idheap.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8B2srd4kq2HIyEd

Deadline February 15th 2020.

Mousetracking in Qualtrics

Qualtrics is a widely used web service for surveys. It’s got plenty of useful features, one of which is the ability to include JavaScript. Jackson Walters has very kindly put up full instructions of how this can be used to track the respondents’ mouse in a particular question, following up a post on Stack Overflow. If you ever looked for mouse tracking in a self-administered web survey, look no further (assuming that you or your institute has a subscription with Qualtrics, of course).

Identity Points in Bosnia and Herzegovina

I quite like Taeku Lee‘s identity points. It encourages people with multiple identities to declare them more reliably than other methods. So when I had the chance to set questions on a survey in multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina, the question had to be on it. Alas, it didn’t make it beyond the pilot.

There were 50 individuals in the pilot, and only 4 of them chose more than one identity. The other 46 put all their identity points into one identity.

As we were under pressure to shorten the survey, and the survey wasn’t really about identity, we did not pursue identity points any further. What I really would like to know is what the result would have been in 1991 before the war, but that’s something we’ll never know. Or perhaps someone will one day run a survey using identity points for children of mixed descent in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In any case, Bosnia and Herzegovina is obviously a special case, and it illustrates how entrenched ethnic identities can/have become in a place otherwise noted for its diversity.

Lee, T. 2009. “Between Social Theory and Social Science Practice: Toward a New Approach to the Survey Measurement of ‘Race’.” In Measuring Identity: A Guide for Social Scientists, edited by R. Abdelal, Y. Herrera, A. Johnston, and R. McDermott. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.