The Research Laboratory within the CSR is our telephone survey laboratory unit, located on the third floor south wing of Eigenmann Hall. We operate 25 recording-enabled calling stations and three reserved supervisor stations. We also have the capacity for in-person interviewing, with separate convertible private rooms on-site.
Our Research Lab manager and director work with collaborators and staff to develop an interviewing data collection protocol that maximizes response and minimizes errors and costs. This may include use of a mailed advance letter, development of a tailored survey introduction, interviewer training on respondent concerns specific to the study, strategic scheduling and determination of number of callbacks to maximize contact, and respondent and interviewer incentives.
We also provide stand-alone calling support either as a quick supplement to an external project or as part of an overall nonresponse reduction strategy. Where telephone numbers are available or searchable, interviewers can follow up with nonparticipating subjects to address potential concerns and encourage participation in a study (regardless whether the main study itself is administered by the lab or by telephone), identify problems with contact information, or inquire about specific item missing data.
We use the CASES 5.6.1 CATI (computer-assisted telephone interviewing) system developed by the Computer-Assisted Survey Methods Program of the University of California at Berkeley and were one of the first academic research facilities to implement this sophisticated system. CASES allows multiple versions of questionnaires in the same instrument so that an interviewer may easily switch between different language or respondent subpopulation versions. We also have the capacity to use the Web version of CASES to allow for interviewing at multiple sites. In addition to these extensive interviewing capabilities, CASES also provides a complete case management system. The results of every telephone call and all case management processes are recorded in paradata files. Details on every call made, including date, time, outcome, interviewer, and length of the call are generated into reports and are used to monitor telephone data collection progress.
Interviewer Hiring, Training, and Quality Control
- The Research Lab’s setting in an academic community provides access to a highly-skilled and motivated workforce. We apply rigorous hiring standards in the selection of our interviewing staff.
- The Research Lab has established an intensive interviewer training program that exceeds standards required by state and federal contracts. Pedagogically, the training program is designed to accommodate a range of learning styles, with individual self-guided PowerPoint presentations, written workbook exercises, quizzes, group work, one-on-one coaching from supervisors, and peer mentoring. New interviewing staff receive at least 9 hours of training in standardized interviewing, case management, oral presentation, and refusal avoidance techniques, 2 to 4 hours of study-specific training, and up to 4 hours of mock-interviewing practice, prior to making production calls on a project.
- Quality control monitoring of real-time audio and on-screen visuals is performed without the knowledge of the interviewer, by senior lab staff at a supervisor-to-interviewer ratio of 1:7. Interviewers are regularly monitored throughout their tenure in the Research Lab for quality control of interview data and continual improvement of interviewing skills: new interviewers are monitored at least twice per a work shift of 4 hours, while more experienced interviewers are typically monitored once per work shift. A single monitoring session consists of at least 20 substantive questionnaire items and up to 10 study introduction and case management events. Interviewers are provided immediate feedback by supervisors on performance and each monitoring session is entered into a database for tracking interviewer performance indicators. Overall, about 20% of all interviews are monitored.