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A Valuable Vehicle for Question Testing in a Field Environment: The U.S. Census Bureau’s Questionnaire Design Experimental Research Survey

Jennifer M. Rothgeb

KEY WORDS: Split-sample testing, question testing, field testing, methodological experiments


Survey methodologists within the U.S. Census Bureau conduct questionnaire design research, including questionnaire pretesting and evaluation. Typically the pretesting research is conducted using cognitive interview methods. Frequently, however, we want to expand that research by conducting “split-sample” field experiments to compare different questionnaire designs. In 1999, the Statistical Research Division established the Questionnaire Design Experimental Research Survey (QDERS) which is an independent omnibus demographic household survey intended solely for research purposes. QDERS is administered using a random-digit-dial (RDD) sample from one of the Census Bureau’s centralized telephone interviewing centers. In this paper, the first two administrations of QDERS (1999 and 2000) are discussed. QDERS has proved to be a valuable tool for methodological testing. It serves to promote independent research by providing the vehicle by which that research can be accomplished.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Created: June 13, 2007
Last revised: June 13, 2007

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