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IASS News August 2011


Message from the IASS Scientific Secretary


The deadline for registering for the 2011 IASS Short Courses in Dublin has been extended from August 3 to August 12! Hurry and register by going to http://www.isi2011.ie/content/short-courses/short-courses.html. There is still a discount if you register for multiple classes, so be sure to register soon before the classes fill up! For a brief description of classes, please see Class Descriptions below.


An informative welcome e-mail was sent to all those who registered. It includes information on: onsite registration, class schedule and materials, travel and accommodation. If you have registered for courses, but did not receive an e-mail, please contact Margo Tercy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Class Descriptions

Introduction to Survey Sampling

Dates: August 17 and 18

The workshop is intended to provide an overview of principles of sample design selection and estimation. It will start from basic principles of sample design and selection beginning with simple random sampling, and build up to complex stratified multi-stage sample designs. It will cover the main sampling techniques and also discuss such issues as sampling frames and weighting. An introduction to variance estimation for complex sample designs will be presented at the end of the workshop.


Business Survey Methods

Dates: August 17 and 18

Business surveys are important sources of information for producing key economic indicators that monitor the economy over time and for constructing official statistics such as national accounts. While business surveys typically use simple sample designs they are not without their methodological challenges such as highly skewed and unstable populations, the quality of frame information and auxiliary data used in stratification, editing, imputation and estimation. This workshop will describe methods for designing business surveys and will cover topics such as building and maintaining a Business Register, sample design, data collection, outlier detection and treatment, imputing for total and/or partial non-response, weighting and estimation and use of administrative data.


Analysis of Complex Sample Survey Data

Dates: August 17 and 18

Estimation procedures appropriate for data collected under complex survey designs will be discussed. The first part of the course will cover estimation and variance estimation for standard statistics, such as means, ratios, domain totals, and the entries in two-way tables. The use of survey data for the estimation of the parameters of statistical models is the focus of the second part of the course. Emphasis will be placed on efficient estimation of the parameters of regression models.


Introduction to Survey Quality

Dates: August 19 and 20

The course spans a range of topics dealing with the quality of survey data. It begins with a discussion of dimensions of survey quality which include accuracy, relevance, timeliness, accessibility, and comparability. We describe an approach to maximizing survey quality in which total survey error is minimized subject to constraints on costs after accommodating the other quality dimensions. The major components of total survey error include: nonresponse error, frame error, measurement error, specification error, data processing error, and file preparation error. We describe a set of principles for evaluating these major error sources and for deploying survey resources optimally to reduce their effects on survey estimates – an approach embodied in the so-called total survey error paradigm. The TSE paradigm considers the origins of each error source (i.e., its root causes) and applies the most effective methods for reducing or controlling the errors under costs and quality constraints. Methods for evaluating survey error such as cognitive interviewing, pretesting, behavior coding, re-interview surveys and administrative records checks are also covered. The course reviews well-established as well as recently developed methods and concepts in the field. It also examines important issues that are still unresolved today and which are being actively pursued in the current survey methods literature. The course concludes with a discussion of the practical advice for designing and conducting surveys that consistently achieve near optimal levels of survey quality.


Web Survey Design

Dates: August 19

The course will focus on the design of Web survey instruments and procedures, based on theories of human-computer interaction, interface design, and research on self-administered questionnaires and computer assisted interviewing. The course will cover various aspects of instrument design for Web surveys, including the appropriate use of widgets (e.g., radio buttons, check boxes) for Web surveys, general formatting and layout issues, movement through the instrument (action buttons, navigation, error messages), and so on. The course will draw on empirical results from experiments on alternative design approaches as well as practical experience in the design and implementation of Web surveys. The course will not address the technical aspects of Web survey implementation, such as hardware, software or programming. The course will also not focus on question wording or sampling issues for Web surveys. The course will have a strong practical emphasis, examining many different examples of good and bad design, with recommendations for best practice.


Methods for Longitudinal Surveys

Dates: August 20

The course will give an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of longitudinal surveys and an outline of key considerations in the design and implementation of such surveys. Participants will be introduced to issues which are specific to longitudinal and panel surveys. This will include topics in sample design, survey design, instrument design, non-response, weighting and imputation.


Workshop on Editing and Imputation of Survey Data

Dates: August 19 and 20

Surveys and censuses conducted by national statistical agencies, research institutes and other survey organizations suffer from various degrees of nonresponse even under ideal conditions. In order to try to alleviate the problems caused by nonresponse, editing and imputation methods are usually applied. Since the process of editing and imputation is time and resource intensive, care must be exercised in controlling the efficiency as well as the effectiveness of the methods. The aim of this short course is to introduce the students to methods of nonresponse prevention and the treatment of suspicious, inconsistent and missing responses. Evaluation of such methods and their impact on the survey outputs will be highlighted. Examples will be provided to illustrate the material presented.


Please contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions or concerns about the short courses.