Fundamentals of Data Collection I



First semester of a two-semester sequence that provides a broad overview of the processes that generate data for use in social science research. Students will gain an understanding of different types of data and how they are created, as well as their relative strengths and weaknesses. A key distinction is drawn between data that are designed, primarily survey data, and those that are found, such as administrative records, remnants of online transactions, and social media content. The course combines lectures, supplemented with assigned readings, and practical exercises. In the first semester, the focus will be on the error that is inherent in data, specifically errors of representation and errors of measurement, whether the data are designed or found. The psychological origins of survey responses are examined as a way to understand the measurement error that is inherent in answers. The effects of the mode of data collection (e.g., mobile web versus telephone interview) on survey responses also are examined.

It runs concurrently with the University of Michigan course.