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Protocol for Pretesting Demographic Surveys at the Census Bureau

Theresa J. DeMaio, Nancy Mathiowetz, Jennifer Rothgeb, Mary Ellen Beach, Sharon Durant

KEY WORDS: Demographic Surveys, Pretesting


The Census Bureau is interested in increasing the amount of pretesting performed on the surveys it conducts and also encouraging the use of recent innovations in pretesting activities. To this end, an interdivisional committee was established within the Bureau to experiment with alternative pretesting activities for surveys in the demographic area and to produce a monograph that develops guidelines for pretesting questionnaires, and specifies a range of pretesting options based on the amount of time and resources available. This monograph covers the following pretest methods: cognitive interviewing techniques, focus groups, behavior coding and analysis, respondent debriefing, interviewer debriefing, split panel tests, and item nonresponse and response distribution analysis. It provides overviews of the methods themselves as well as a discussion of issues involved in their use (e.g., time and cost, study design, reporting of results). It also presents three case studies of the use of these methods in pretesting demographic surveys.

CITATION: 1993, Proceedings of the Section on Survey Research Methods, Alexandria, VA: American Statistical Association, pp. 000-000.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010