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Cross-Cultural Survey Research

Week 2 (10-14 October 2022)

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Christof Wolf; Dr. Henning Silber; Robert Sentamu

About the lecturers

Christof Wolf studied Sociology, Economics, Economic and Social History and Statistics at Hamburg University. In 1996 he received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Cologne and was awarded the venia legendi for sociology in 2003. From 2004 to 2015 Christof Wolf was Scientific Director of the department "Monitoring Society and Social Change", since 2015 he is President of GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences. Since 2009 he is also a professor for sociology at Mannheim University. His research interests include social stratification, health and social networks. He co-edited the Sage Handbook of Survey Methodology together with Dominique Joye, Tom W. Smith and Yang-chih Fu.

Henning Silber studied Sociology and German Philology at The University of Göttingen and Abo Akademi University. In 2015, he received his doctorate in social sciences from The University of Göttingen. His PhD studies were funded by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation and the FAZIT Foundation. Henning was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, The University of Texas at Austin, Utrecht University, and The University of Chicago. From 2019 to 2020 he was Fulbright Research Fellow at The University of Illinois at Chicago. He is Scientific Team Leader of the Survey Operations Team at the Department of Survey Design and Methodology at GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences. Since 2018, he serves as the Secretary-Treasurer of The World Association of Public Opinion Research (WAPOR). His research interests include survey methodology, political sociology, and the experimental social sciences.

Robert Sentamu is the managing director of Wilsken Agencies Ltd, a Ugandan development research organization with operations in over 35 African countries. Robert is an educationist, sociologist as well as a scientist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Science Education, MA in Behavioral Science, MSc in Methodology and Statistics for Behavioral, Biomedical and Social Sciences, MSc in Operational Research and Social Statistics as well as a diploma with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK). As a highly skilled research specialist, he has designed, coordinated and overseen the implementation of over 50 high-level research projects in fields like health, governance, and education. Robert is also one of the pioneering members of the Afrobarometer, on which he has served in several capacities including National Investigator for Uganda, national partner representative on the Afrobarometer Executive Committee, Member of the Afrobarometer Questionnaire Design Committee and Core Partner Director for East Africa. He has also innovated and piloted a number of survey protocols currently implemented by the Afrobarometer.

Short course description

This course focusses on cross-cultural survey research and follows up on the introduction to survey methodology. We emphasize issues that have to be taken into account when conducting surveys in more than one country or culture.

The course begins by positioning cross-cultural survey research in the Total Survey Error framework. From there, we discuss specific problems of measurement and representation in cross-cultural research. Concerning the measurement, we discuss question and questionnaire design from a cross-cultural perspective, including challenges of translation, harmonization, and applying international standard classifications in the survey context. We also briefly touch on different ways to pretest survey questions in a cross-cultural framework.

This will be followed-up by considerations of the mode of data collection and sampling, two crucial elements determining what part of the population is represented by a survey. Then we turn to aspects of fieldwork monitoring and the collection of para data. This leads us to approaches of data documentation and metadata as well as to aspects of survey data quality and measurement comparability within cross-cultural surveys.

For the full-length syllabus, please click here (154 kB).

Course prerequisites

  • Basic knowledge of social research methods, in particular survey methodology
  • Basic statistical knowledge, ability to use a statistical software, interest in data analysis

Target group

Participants will find the course useful if:

  • they are interested to learn about survey research in a cross-cultural perspective
  • they have an interest in quantitative methodology and scientific exploration
  • they want to acquire a critical perspective on methods of data production in comparative research

Course and learning objectives

By the end of the course participants will:

  • have learned basic concepts and methods of comparative survey research
  • have developed an awareness of key challenges of cross-cultural survey research and the precautions to take when using such a design
  • have the ability to critically assess the quality of a cross-cultural survey

Hardware and software requirements

Participants are expected to bring their own laptops for use in the course. Participants should pre-install the open-source software R as well as RStudio and download the following R packages:descr, psych, lavaan, homals, ca, CCA, haven, Hmisc, lme4 before the course.