Contrary to common belief, memories are just not dependable

This was one of my main points in critiquing college student surveys: we can’t ask students questions as if they have a computer hard drive in their head. A similar study conducted in 1988 yielded similar results. Researchers showed participants slides depicting a burglar stealing a hammer from someone’s office. Then they read a brief report of the incident. Some of them were given reports...

Retrospective measurement of students’ extracurricular activities with a self- administered calendar instrument

With the expansion of all-day schooling in Germany, students’ extracurricular activities are being brought into greater focus in educational and social sciences. However, the diverse range of activities and individual biographies makes it difficult to gather data on the variety and periods of extracurricular activities in classroom-based surveys. This paper introduces a tailored calendar...

20% of all surveys are based on fraudulent data?

So claims some researchers: How often do people conducting surveys simply fabricate some or all of the data? Several high-profile cases of fraud over the past few years have shone a spotlight on that question, but the full scope of the problem has remained unknown.  Yesterday, at a meeting in Washington, D.C., a pair of well-known researchers, Michael Robbins and Noble Kuriakose, presented a...

Why political opinion polls are good

If you think that polls are destroying democracy, then think about an alternative. Without polls, politicians, special interests and certain members of the news media would still have strong incentives to make forceful claims about the public’s views. Unconstrained by credible polling data, these individuals could spin incredible stories about the great public support for their endeavors. This...

“The end of polling as we know it.”

It’s a national — and international — trend. The polls underestimated the scope of the 2014 midterm elections. Elections and referenda in Greece, Poland, Britain, Israel, and Scotland embarrassed the pollsters who thought they knew what was going on. My colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, Karlyn Bowman, has been studying polling for decades. She says this may be “the end of polling as...

Concise summary of commands for using complex samples

Ever wondered how to correctly take into account the complex sampling design of a national survey? The good folks at RTI put together a nice appendix for common statistical packages:
Table K1
From the 2011–12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:12) Data File Documentation, Appendix K.

The future of survey research

The Future of Survey Research: Challenges and Opportunities A Report to the National Science Foundation Based on Two Conferences Held on October 3-4 and November 8-9, 2012   For more than thirty years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has supported data for research on a wide variety of topics by making awards to three major long-term survey efforts, the American National Elections...

The problem with public opinion polls

In the polling world, no survey firm releases its microdata in a timely manner. When pollsters release it at all — usually months after publication, to an archive that requires a paid subscription for access — they seldom provide the detailed methodological explanations necessary to replicate the survey results. Critics have raised charges of full-scale fabrication, like that alleged in the...

About me

Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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