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11 October 2018 | City, University of London

Decomposing heterogeneity in response latencies in a face-to-face survey: Interviewer, respondent and question characteristics

Face to face interview

It is well-known that interviewers are key to determining the quality and cost of data collection in household interview surveys. They influence the likelihood that sample members will respond and, therefore, the bias and precision of estimates.

In this paper we consider a different and less well studied outcome; the extent to which interviewers affect the time respondents take to answer questions. Because interview length is often used as an indicator of both response quality and fieldwork costs, the answer to this question is consequential. We address this question by linking high volume paradata on response latencies from wave 3 of Understanding Society, a large face-to-face household interview survey, to survey data on interviewers and respondents to understand the causes of variability in response latencies. The linked data file contains over 3 million records and has a complex, hierarchical structure with response latencies nested within the cross-classification of respondents and questions which are themselves nested within the cross-classification of interviewers and areas.

We use a cross-classified mixed-effects location scale model to decompose the joint effects of interviewers, areas, questions, and respondents. We consider how interviewer demographic characteristics and attitudes toward and beliefs about fieldwork practices affect response latencies. We also assess which characteristics of questions and respondents are associated with longer response times. Our approach enables us to identify individual interviewers and questions which make particularly large contributions to variability in response times, which could be used to identify problems and lead to data quality improvements.

Patrick Sturgis is Professor of Research Methodology in the Department of Social Statistics, University of Southampton and Director of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods. His research focuses on applied quantitative and statistical methods, with a particular specialism in survey design and analysis. He was President of the European Survey Research Association 2011-2015 and has published widely on in leading methodology journals including Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Journal of Survey Methods and Statistics. He serves in an advisory capacity on Understanding Society, the European Social Survey, and the British Election Study and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Government Statistical Service. He chaired the BPC/MRS Inquiry into the failure of the 2015 election polls and serves as Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on public opinion and polling.

Where: ELG15, Drysdale Building, City, University of London, Northampton Square, EC1V 0HB

When: 5:45-7:15pm, 11th October 2018

Speaker: Patrick Sturgis, University of Southampton

Series: NatCen-ESS ERIC-City methodology seminar series

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