Question ONS (PowerPoint)

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					    Introduction to the ESRC Question Bank
         and ESRC Survey Link Scheme

            Julie Lamb and Martin Bulmer
               Department of Sociology
                  University of Surrey
 Aims of the presentation
• Introduction
• The Question Bank – a brief
• Advantages and disadvantages of
  using available questions
• The Survey Link Scheme
What is the Qb?
• Established in 1996 when there
  were few online survey resources
  and questionnaires were often hard
  to find.
• 1995 – 2005 part of Centre for
  Applied Social Surveys
• Now a stand alone resource funded
  by ESRC at the University of Surrey
Who is it for?

• Aimed at;
        • Researchers devising survey questions
        • Secondary data analysts
        • Teachers and students of research methods
Qb Key Aims
1. Bridge the gap of understanding between
   survey professionals and academic
2. Provide standardised quantitative
   measures of key variables;
3. Capture key survey instruments; and
4. Be freely available online (no
What material do we hold?
    – Questionnaires from important social
    – Question background material
    – Commentary on topics and concepts
    – NO DATA!
• Three main areas of the site;
    – Surveys
    – Topics
    – Resources
• 58 surveys covering wide topic range
• 1991 onwards
• National probability samples
• Linked to data sets at UK Data
• Overviews and resources

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

• 22 Key social science topic areas
• Commentary on social measurement
  in those areas
• Key Variables chapters
• ESDS resources
• Links
• Bibliographies
• All about the QB! (User Guide)
• CAPI explained
• Harmonisation Booklets
• Survey Link Scheme
• Teaching presentations
• Contact details
Searching the QB

• 40,000 pages, 58 Surveys, 22
    = A lot of material !!
• Three strategies
    – Surveys menu (going directly to the
      required file)
    – Topics menu
    – The Search Engine
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
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
Uses of questions
    –Ready-made questions
    –Traceable route – from analysis
     back to questions
    –Check for validity and reliability of
    –Use existing questions to develop
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
   – Responding to queries from policy
     makers / customers
• 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
• 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
What does a CAPI questionnaire
look like on paper?
• Blaise codes either left in or taken
    – If left in the questions are difficult to
    – 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
Using the Qb: Summary
• Readily accessible bank of questions
• Entire surveys available for download
• Questions
    – Process of operationalisation already
    – Benchmarked officially
    – Tried and tested in the field
    – Chunked ready for download
• Help us to develop the Qb resource
• Online user survey
• Contact us:
• Join the mailing list!

The Survey Link Scheme                  Link


• Qb works very closely with the SLS team
• Provide training days in survey data
  collection focusing particularly on CAPI
  and upon it’s 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
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
 Travel expenses are paid
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 Organisation’s presentation on the use of
      CAPI on a major survey undertaken by the major

               Current Workshop Programme
   Schem e
Organisations in the Scheme
 Office for National Statistics (ONS)
 National Centre for Social Research
 Institute for Social and Economic Research
  (ISER), University of Essex in
  collaboration with NOP
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
Who Benefits?
• Social Science Researchers

• Post Graduate Students:
    – MSc.
    – Ph.D.
• Teachers of Research Methods
• Researchers (non-Academic)

                  Why Apply…..
   Schem e

 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.

                  Why Apply?
   Schem e

 “Secondary analysts sometimes forget where the data come from, and tend
 to lose the focus: …… or interpret them according to their mental

 “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”

                  Further details
   Schem e

 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.
• Online:

• E-Mail:
       Tel:      01483 682796