157 Survey Design Paper Assignment Sheet


This project involves writing up a mock proposal to add questions to the 2012 General Social Survey.  It will require you to come up with an area of research interest within American public opinion, and to design good questions to further explore that area of interest.




Detailed organization of the paper:


The paper should take the structure of a proposal to the GSS.  The real-world call for proposals can be found here: http://sda.berkeley.edu/GSS2012.pdf (begin reading at “Proposals for New Content”).  Talk to me if you have a particular interest in California Government, and instead want to structure your questions for the Field Poll.  However, I will give you some specific requirements for your report:


Section 1: Research Question or topic (about 1 page)


In this section you should clearly explain what aspect of American politics or political behavior you are interested in studying.  What big question are you trying to answer?  Why is it important or interesting?  Why is it something we don’t already know?


Section 2: Literature Review (2-3 pages)


This section explores what existing research says about your topic.  What do scholars already know about this area of interest?  Be sure to use internal citations, and limit this to relevant studies.


Section 3: Type of questions or design (.5 page to 2 pages)


How are you structuring your questions, and why?  Are you asking open or closed questions (or some combination), do you want to only ask the questions to some subset of respondents?  Do you want to do alternate wordings of the same question?  Do you want to administer the questions in some alternate way?  Explain and justify why you are asking the types of questions you are and in the way you propose.  You may end up citing methodological research here.


Section 4: The Questions


Write a minimum of 7, maximum of 10 questions (all should be able to be asked in 5 minutes of time) designed to elicit accurate responses (not trick questions, as clean as possible).  Include the exact wording as the respondent would hear it, any instructions to the person asking the questions in parentheses, and all of the response options. 


This should take a fair amount of time to get these right – think about question design, possible problems with different sorts of response options, etc.


Section 5: Analysis plan (.5-1.5 pages)


How would you analyze the results – what other demographic questions that would be asked on a standard survey would you need for your analysis (age, gender, race, religiosity, etc.)?  Would you want to track the questions asked to the same respondents over time? Would question ordering reveal anything?  What would you hope to accomplish and learn, and what would the resultant study look like?




Include a works cited page using APSA or MLA styles.

o   You need a minimum of 3 sources on methods (question ordering, response options, wording, etc.)

o   You need a minimum of 5 credible sources on substance.  These should be peer-reviewed academic journals, books, or credible web sites, like those from polling organizations or major research organizations such as Pew.