Fundamentals of Survey Research

This course covers the foundations of modern survey methodology with a focus on survey design. The aim in this course is to teach you the nuts and bolts of survey research but also, to imbed high quality design priniciples to ensure high standards of data quality and transparency.

Level 1 - runs over 5 days

Betsy Blunsdon Dr. Betsy Blunsdon was Executive Director of ACSPRI for six years up until 2018. This role included overseeing ACSPRIā€™s Survey Centre. Prior to this Betsy was an academic at Deakin University and Monash University where she taught undergraduates, post graduates and higher degree research students. Her teaching included research methods. Her publications include work on organisational flexibility, work-family integration, employee-management trust, trust in institutions and personal communities. Blunsdon has a B.A. (Honors) from American University, an M.B.A. from Monash University and a Ph.D. from Monash University. She has been a regular presenter and panelist at the International Field Directors and Technology Conference (IFDTC) over the years. This is the premier conference for university based and not for profit survey research centers in North America.

Course dates: Monday 10 February 2020 - 5 14 February 2020
Course status: Course completed (no new applicants)
Week 3
About this course: 

This course is hands on and involves experiential learning. You will learn about survey research by designing and conducting your own research across survey modes using survey software for computer assisted telephone interviewing, scanning and processing of postal surveys, and internet surveys. There will be ample time for discussion of your own survey research interests.


The course is relevant to qualitative researchers who want to understand the nuts and bolts of survey methods; PhD student with little prior experience in survey design but who plan to include a survey component in their research design; and, researchers that want to upgrade their survey technological expertise especially for multi-mode designs.

Course syllabus: 

Day 1

An Introduction to Survey Research
What is survey research? (What is it? When would you use it?); Strengths and weaknesses of survey research; A brief history of survey research (Historical background; When is it used today; An examination of major surveys in Australia; (Surveys in the news);

Software for Data Collection. Guest presenter Adam Zammit, ACSPRI
Introduction to data collection software; Critical evaluation of mode options through experience


Day 2

Surveys and Scientific Research
The scientific principles of survey research; Functions of survey research; The survey research process; Sources of survey error.

Question Design and Development
Core issues in questionnaire design; Question construction including question types and response categories; Evaluating and testing survey questions.


Day 3

Questionnaire design and Instrument Development
Questionnaire logic, Flow of the Instrument; Instructions; Sequencing; Skip logic; Format and Layout; Unimode designs for multi-mode surveys.

Survey Administration
Modes of administration – data collection options (Self administered; Interviews; Advantages and disadvantages of modes; Maximising response rates; Multi-mode designs).


Day 4

Survey Populations
Populations and frames; Coverage properties of frames; Alternative frames for households or persons; Frame issues for other target populations; Studying rare populations; Coverage error.

Sample Design
Samples and estimates; Simple random sampling; Other types of sampling; Systematic selection; Complex designs; Within household selection; Nonresponse in sample surveys.
The Practicalities of Sampling – tales from the trenches. Guest presenter Adam Zammit ACSPRI


Day 5

Managing Survey Projects
Ensuring quality (Reliability; Validity; Sources of survey error; Minimising error); Weighting;
Principles and practices of research ethics; Project budgeting; Project management including issues of processing and coding;
Survey data documentation and metadata; Analysis of existing survey data.

Open Session
Testing your own questions, instrument, and survey design. Individual consultation.

Course format: 

This course will take place in a classroom. You will need to bring your own laptop as we'll be using a web browser.

Recommended Background: 

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course fees
Non Member: 
Full time student Member: 
Participant feedback: 

Amazing course, Amazing instructor. (Summer 2016)


Knowledge good, balance of theory & skills, skills information delivered and I was able to identify how both will improve my practice. (Summer 2016)


Appreciated flexibility, with group exercises but also open to private time being spent on individual work as appropriate to your needs. (Summer 2016)


I have limited background in survey design - was very useful for me in considering options for my graduate research (Summer 2015)


Helped clarify some questions that were not easy to get answers for via text. The group/class discussion and q and a were very helpful. (Summer 2015)


Gave good insight into good practices and examples. (Summer 2014)

Summer Program 2020

The instructor's bound course notes will serve as the course text.