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In this research synthesis, we identify challenges and crucial considerations for multilingual survey development and research, illustrating our discussion with studies conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau pertaining to three major stages of multilingual survey development and deployment: translation of survey materials, qualitative and quantitative pretesting, and fielding. Research conducted at the Bureau to address the complex challenges inherent in enumerating the rapidly diversifying U.S. population can provide insights for other agencies as well as commercial and non-profit survey organizations. One particular challenge is the standardization of the multilingual survey. In our examination of key issues and findings on the impact of cross-linguistic differences in multilingual surveys, we analyze two issues related to cross-linguistic and cross-cultural standardization: (1) the standardization of survey materials and procedures (i.e., standardization of the stimulus) vs. data quality outcomes (i.e., standardization of the effect); and (2) the appropriateness of utilizing existing research methods with populations other than those for whom they were originally developed. We conclude with a review of the main issues and next steps for research and evaluation of multilingual surveys, with the goal of informing best practices.
Yuling Pan, Jennifer Leeman, Marissa Fond, and Patricia Goerman. (2014). Multilingual Survey Design and Fielding: Research Perspectives from the U.S. Census Bureau. Center for Statistical Research & Methodology Research Report Series (Survey Methodology #2014-01). U.S. Census Bureau. Available online at <http://www.census.gov/srd/papers/pdf/RSM2014-01.pdf>.
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