1504.0 - Methodological News, Mar 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/03/2008   
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Development of a Suitability Framework for Selecting Modes of Data Collection for ABS Surveys

The Data Collection Methodology (DCM) section in the Statistical Services Branch (SSB) performs a number of tasks for the Multi-Modal Data Collection (MMDC) project. A key DCM task for MMDC is to produce standards for the design and testing of new methods of data collection, before any substantial development work is conducted.

Final design standards for Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) and Excel forms have been in use for several years. Standards for Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems were released in 2007, ready for when this method of data collection is piloted in the future. Survey Email Standards were released in early 2008 and work on standards for web surveys will begin later in 2008.

The next DCM task for the MMDC project is the development of guidelines for the relative suitability of data collection modes for different types of ABS surveys. A general document summarising the advantages and disadvantages of different modes of data collection is currently being drafted, with the modes broadly grouped into face-to-face, telephone, and self-administered modes. Separate suitability models will be produced for the data collection modes that are currently in use in the ABS or are expected to be used in the future. These models will provide a guide to the appropriateness of the modes of data collection and the selection of particular surveys for the pilot tests of these methods when they are introduced. The main framework document will be a new chapter in the Forms Design Standards Manual, with the suitability models appearing as sub-chapters.

For example, one of the ten factors in the existing CATI suitability model used to determine a survey's suitability for migration to CATI, is the number of data items that the survey has. This factor is scored as follows (lower scores indicate higher suitability):

Factor - Number of data items

15 or fewer
541 and greater

A survey that has only one collected data item (e.g. the Retail Business Survey) will have a score of 1 for this factor, indicating a high level of suitability against this factor. Scores are obtained for this and nine other factors for the CATI model, with the overall score ranging from 10 to 50 points. The lower the score, the greater the suitability of the survey for migration to CATI.

Another factor in the CATI model is the amount of time the survey takes to administer. This factor has also been included in the draft IVR model; however, the scoring for time taken is even more stringent for IVR than for CATI (see below). This scoring reflects the fact that while CATI is most suitable for short surveys, IVR requires the survey to be even shorter.

Factor - Time taken/interview length (minutes)
15 or fewer3 or fewer
26-10 4-5
311-20 6-10
421-30 11-15
531 or more16 or more

For further information, please contact Chloe Groves on (02) 6252 7649.