1504.0 - Methodological News, Mar 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/07/2001   
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The Statistical Clearing House (SCH) is responsible for reviewing all surveys of 50 or more businesses conducted by, or on behalf of, Commonwealth government agencies. The primary purpose of the SCH is to reduce the burden of government surveys on businesses by ensuring such surveys do not duplicate existing collections and are of sufficient quality to warrant the burden imposed. The data collection phase of a survey must not begin until the survey has been approved.

The SCH provides advice and assistance at all stages of the review process. Specific requirements on the type of information required for the review can be found on the Internet, on the SCH Web site at www.sch.abs.gov.au.

The SCH has recently launched a new look web site that contains a wealth of information designed to assist survey managers, researchers and others interested in the design and co-ordination of surveys. The new SCH web site has three main sections:

1. Information about the SCH:

This section provides a brief overview of the SCH, a description of the SCH clearance process for surveys including general clearance procedures, the information template to be completed by survey managers and the review criteria used to assess surveys.

It is designed to provide survey managers with the information and tools they need in order to have their survey reviewed.

2. Commonwealth Business Surveys Register:

The Commonwealth Business Surveys Register contains information about business surveys that fall within the scope of the SCH clearance process and have been reviewed by the SCH. For each survey it includes a description of the survey design and provides a direct contact point to the survey manager.

In providing descriptions of Commonwealth Government surveys, the Business Surveys Register aims:

  • to increase the awareness, quality, and use of the statistical data generated by these surveys, thus reducing the likelihood of survey duplication; and
  • to facilitate the design of future surveys, by making existing designs readily visible.

In addition to the Business Surveys Register, this section also provides information on alternative data sources. It provides links to Statistical Directories which may assist in identifying alternative data sources.

The Business Surveys Register is a valuable reference tool. When researching a particular topic or designing or contemplating a new survey, you can look on this Register to see whether any similar surveys have already been conducted. This will allow greater sharing of the information currently available. It may result in survey managers being able to reduce the content of their survey or possibly remove the need to conduct their survey at all.

Also, by looking at survey design methods used for similar surveys, survey managers may be able to reduce their survey development time by learning from the experience of others in conducting similar surveys. By being aware of how similar surveys have been done, survey managers will be able to ensure that their survey results are comparable with other surveys (e.g. by using the same survey standards and/or classifications).

3. Reference Material:

This section of the web site provides a range of information to assist survey managers, researchers and others interested in the design and co-ordination of surveys. The section contains a number of different sub-sections including:
  • Glossary: A glossary of terms and phrases associated with survey design and used on the Web site.
  • Survey Design Manuals: Useful reference material for designing surveys or interpreting survey results. Manuals currently available on the web site include: Basic Survey Design; and Forms Development Procedures and Design Standards.
  • Standard Classifications: Links to standard classifications (such as industry, occupation, geography).
  • International Practices: Standards and procedures on survey quality and best practices documented by National Statistical Offices and other national and international organisations.
  • Research Papers: These are likely to be of particular interest to those designing surveys or interpreting survey results. Topics such as non-response and telephone interviewing are typical.
  • Alternative Data Sources: Links to Statistical Directories. This will be useful to researchers in identifying other potential sources of data.

This section of the web site will be updated as further reference material is identified.

The search facility on the new web site allows you to target particular areas of interest. For example you could search for a particular word or words (and variants thereof). You can search the entire web site or limit the search to various areas of the web site for example when searching for business surveys, you could limit the search to the Business Surveys Register and hone in on just surveys conducted by particular agencies.

The web site will continue to evolve. As surveys are approved, they are loaded (with clearance by the survey managers) on to the web site. As further reference material is identified, it too will be loaded to the web site. It is designed to be a reference tool that can be scanned for relevant information as the need arises. Users are encouraged to periodically check the site to see what new information has been incorporated.

If you have any questions about the web site, the SCH can be contacted on (02) 6252 5285.

Email: statistical.clearing.house@abs.gov.au