Modular Questionnaire Designs for Social Surveys: Statistical Modelling of Designed Missingness

Research question/goal: 

Surveys have become an indispensable source of information on social and political circumstances in modern societies. Quantitative social research based on survey data requires ever larger data sets containing ever more complex structures. Together with decreasing response rates and increasing fieldwork efforts, the heightened expectations regarding data quality lead to surging survey costs.

Fortunately, the developments in statistical modelling and associated computing power have seen large developments in the past twenty years, enabling us to rethink traditional survey data collection methods. In particular, two developments seem promising: modular (or split) questionnaires and imputation methods.

The project aims to investigate whether these methods can be combined and further developed to replace large-scale face-to-face surveys by shorter online surveys while preserving the same degree of population coverage and quality. This project is a first step in developing and evaluating the necessary statistical tools to complement data structures collected by modular questionnaire designs. The main interest lies in assessing the estimation efficiency and bias of imputation methods. Further considerations concern the potential for cost savings and usability.

In the first phase of the project, data sets of the waves of the German Internet Panel are used to evaluate the approaches. In the second phase, we will analyse and impute datasets from modular questionnaire designs, implemented in the European Value Survey. Resulting data sets are imputed and analysed regarding the aim of the project.

Current stage: 

In 2021, we focused on investigating the suitability of different strategies for imputing data from modular questionnaire designs based on simulation studies with data from the German Internet Panel using high-performance clusters of the state of Baden-Württemberg. The research results have been written up in two papers and have been submitted to survey methodology journals. Furthermore, the findings from the project were presented in the GESIS Lecture Series and in a session on modular questionnaire designs, co-organized by the project team, at the ESRA conference.

Fact sheet

Funding: 
DFG
Duration: 
2017 to 2023
Status: 
ongoing
Data Sources: 
German Internet Panel, European Value Study
Geographic Space: 
Europe

Publications