Fundamentals of Data Collection II

Spring 2021


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Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor required; or fundamentals of Data Collection I.

This is the second course in 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. The second semester builds on the discussion of survey mode during the first semester, considering the role played by interviewers in telephone and in-person surveys and their effects on the data collected. Students next are introduced to the methods for extracting and re purposing found data for social science research. Methods for the classification of text, with an emphasis on automated coding methods, are introduced and selected applications considered (e.g., coding of open-ended survey responses, classification of the sentiments expressed in social media posts). Issues in using survey data and administrative records to measure change over time (longitudinal comparisons) are explored. The term concludes with an examination of methods for evaluating the quality of both designed and found data.