Fundamentals of Survey and Data Science

Fall 2020


Prerequisite: STAT100; or permission of BSOS-Joint Program in Survey Methodology department.

Restriction: Course open to SURV certificate students, SURV Advanced Special Students, and SURV undergraduate minors. Graduate students from other departments may enroll with permission from the department.


The field of survey methodology draws on theories and practices developed in several academic disciplines - mathematics, statistics, psychology, sociology, computer science, and economics.  To become an accomplished professional in the survey research field requires a mastery of research literatures as well as experience designing, conducting, and analyzing surveys.

This course introduces the student to a set of principles of survey design that are the basis of standard practices in the field.  The course exposes the student to research literatures that use both observational and experimental methods to test key hypotheses about the nature of human behavior that affect the quality of survey data.  It will also present important statistical concepts and techniques in sample design, execution, and estimation, as well as models of behavior describing errors in responding to survey questions.  Thus, both social science and statistical concepts will be presented.

The course uses the concept of total survey error as a framework to discuss coverage properties of sampling frames, alternative sample designs and their impacts on standard errors of survey statistics, alternative modes of data collection, field administration operations, the role of the survey interviewer, impacts of nonresponse on survey statistics, the effect of question structure, wording and context on respondent behavior, models of measurement error, postsurvey processing, and estimation in surveys. 

The course is intended as an introduction to the field, taught at a graduate level.  Lectures and course readings assume that students understand basic statistical concepts (at the level of an undergraduate course) and have exposure to elements of social science perspectives on human behavior.  For those lacking such a background, supplementary readings are recommended.