Trends, Challenges and the Art of Survey Writing for Research: Online- (2 days)

Taught by an instructor with real-world experience as a campaign consultant, survey researcher and data scientist, this masterclass will focus on teaching you about survey design.


This course will be run over 2 days in three sessions per day:


  • 10.00 am - 11.30 am - Session 1
  • 12.00 pm - 1.30 pm - Session 2
  • 2.30 pm - 4.00 pm - Session 3


This course is being held online via Zoom and run on Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT +10)


Master Class - runs over 2 days

Dr Shaun Ratcliff is an applied data scientist, political scientist and survey researcher.

He is the Director of Data Science in the Public Affairs and Polling team at survey re-search firm YouGov. He was previously a lecturer of political science at the University of Sydney (2017-2022), where he coordinated the survey research program at the United States Studies Centre.

He manages complex, high profile projects for clients engaged in political activities, cam-paigns and related work. His work is largely focused on understanding how the public thinks about issues, organisations and events, and what influences their beliefs and ac-tions. He designs survey instruments and applies innovative data science methods to measure and track behaviours and attitudes and identify ways to engage with the pub-lic.  

He has a PhD in political science from Monash University, and holds an affiliation with the University of Sydney, where he is a lecturer in data science in the Faculty of Engi-neering and holds an honorary appointment with the United States Studies Centre



About this course: 

We are in the middle of a data revolution. This has impacted the academic, private, not for profit and public sectors.

Data collection is a significant part of this, and the use of surveys has become increasing-ly important to gather information on public opinion and consumer behaviour. However, there have been some high profile misses in recent years: the 2016 US Presidential elec-tion and Brexit being the most significant of these. What caused these errors, and can good survey design save us from making the same mistakes?


Taught by an instructor with real-world experience as a campaign consultant, survey re-searcher and data scientist, this masterclass will focus on teaching you about survey design.


We will explore how surveys can be effectively used to collect data. You will be shown how modern survey research works, and sometimes doesn’t, how technology and social trends are changing survey research, and the best ways to write effective survey questions. It will provide you with the knowledge and skills to develop the survey instruments needed for data-driven research, decision making and advice.

Course syllabus: 

Day 1

    1. a) Introductions b) The anatomy of a survey (sampling)
    2. The importance of a good sample, and how will you contact your respondents?
    3. What makes a good survey question.


Day 2

    1. Reducing measuremnet error (from respondents and your survey design).
    2. Challenges to survey research
    3. a) opportunities survey for research, b) conclusion

Course format: 

This workshop will take place online ‘live’ via zoom.

There are no specific software prerequisites, just email, a web browser and a word processor

Recommended Background: 

No Prerequisites needed.


Recommended Texts: 

Some light reading will be provided before the course begins.

Participant feedback: 

This online course was as enjoyable and instructive as face-to-face courses. The small group and engaging presenter meant that there was ample opportunity to interact with course mates and question/seek clarification. I actually find reading and comprehending slides faster and easier in an online environment, leaving more time to focus on the spoken presentation, so that was a plus from this format. Despite the well-known and discussed limitations of ALL online meetings, I would happily recommend this course, in this online format, to colleagues and friends.


Great in-depth coverage of survey design and related concepts, applicable to a range of disciplines


Small classes and the ability to ask questions as well as drop comments in the zoom chat during the course was very helpful.


The online format was great, largely due to Shaun's presentation style.


The first day was pitched at exactly the right level for me. I have some survey design experience, but no technical training, so it crystallised some of what I knew, and introduced some new knowledge. The second day was a bit faster and territory I was less familiar with, but it was still a useful overview and I can now do a bit more of my own research when it
becomes relevant for my work.


Program where course next likely to be offered: 
Master-class Oct 2023: The Art of Survey Writing: Online
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