1530.0 - ABS Forms Design Standards Manual, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2010  First Issue
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Aim of these standards

These standards are to be used in the design and preparation of self-administered collection forms (paper and electronic) and Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) interfaces. A good working knowledge of these standards should aid the development of forms that collect accurate data, ease the burden of respondents and ensure efficient processing.

While aspects of these standards will be of interest to those outside the ABS, they were developed for internal use. As such, some information contained in these standards will not be applicable to an external audience. ABS staff should refer to the Corporate Manuals database for the most recent version of these documents, as some details (names, phone numbers etc.) have been removed from the online version.
Assistant Statisticians and Regional Directors

The relevant Assistant Statisticians and Regional Directors are ultimately responsible for approving forms before they are printed. They should ensure that the forms they approve conform to the standards.

They are also responsible for certifying ABS collection forms 'pursuant to Section 10 (1) of the Census and Statistics Act 1905'.

Refer to Chapter 3 (Data Collection) and Chapter 4 (Certification of Forms) of the ABS Policy and Legislation Manual "Developing and Conducting Statistical Collections" for more details on approval and certification of forms.
Data Collection Methodology Section

Data Collection Methodology (DCM) Section is part of Statistical Support Branch, and their mission is:
To enable the collection of good quality data by providing expert advice and assistance on questionnaire design, methods of evaluation and respondent engagement. DCM assist in the development of their client's skills, undertake research and lead innovation in data collection methods.

Staff constructing forms can consult DCM on structure, wording or layout and design problems, and should consult DCM about the application and interpretation of the forms design standards or departures from them. For those external to the ABS this consultancy may attract a fee.

For further information, please email Emma Farrell, Data Collection Methodology, emma.farrell@abs.gov.au
How to use these Standards

These standards are intended for use in the development of forms for ABS business surveys. However, many of the design principles included can be applied in the development of other kinds of forms. These standards are not intended to cover the entire range of questionnaire design theory but some references have been included as background.

Note that the term "respondent" has been used throughout this manual rather than the term "provider", which is more common in some areas of the ABS. In this context the provider is considered to be the selected unit, whether that is a business, a household, a building project or whatever. The respondent is the person who actually fills out the form or speaks to the interviewer.

Note also that the graphics of example questions used in this manual are illustrative only and don't necessarily reflect the ABS standard question wording. For example, in some cases the required notes have been removed.

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