The Survey Octopus: An approach to teaching Total Survey Error. Seminar at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, by Caroline Jarrett.
Abstract: Although the concepts of Total Survey Error (TSE) have been widely accepted amongst survey methodologists and statisticians for many years, TSE is still not familiar to many people who commission ad-hoc surveys for business or government. A recent survey (Jablonski, 2015) suggests that even some academics teaching survey methodology at university level do not use TSE in their classes; some were not even aware of the concept.
After having many conversations with colleagues and clients where I tried to explain that a high number of responses was in itself not a guarantee of data quality, I turned to the classic Survey Lifecycle (Groves et al, 2009), with its presentation of Total Survey Error arising from errors across steps in the survey process. From this, I evolved the Survey Octopus, a way of helping non-specialists to get to grips with the issues involved in TSE and to help them to make better, and more informed, choices when deciding about how to approach a survey.
In this seminar, I will describe the Survey Octopus, show how it relates to Groves et als' model of the survey lifecycle, and explain the benefits and problems of each depiction of TSE.
Groves, Robert M., Floyd J. Fowler, Mick P. Couper, James. M. Lepkowski, Eleanor Singer, and Roger Tourangeau. 2009. Survey methodology. 2nd ed, Wiley series in survey methodology. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
Jablonski, Wojciech. 2015. "Survey Methodology Courses and TSE/Big Data Issues. Classroom Experiences Among University Instructors " International Total Survey Error Conference, Baltimore, Maryland.