Exploring Survey Research at ESRA Summer School 2024 in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Exploring Survey Research at ESRA Summer School 2024

Ljubljana, Slovenia

In the picturesque city of Ljubljana, ESRA (European Survey Research Association) hosted a Summer School- an enlightening program that brought together experts, researchers, and enthusiasts in the field of survey methodology. Representing Sample Solutions, Nadica, Natalija, and Emilija embarked on this journey to deepen their understanding of various topics such as web tracking, data donations, survey methodology, probability vs. non-probability samples, and the total survey error framework. Their experiences and learnings from this trip not only enriched their professional knowledge but also offered valuable insights that will drive innovation in their survey research.

The journey to Ljubljana was filled with anticipation and excitement. The capital of Slovenia is renowned for its blend of historical charm and modern vibrancy. The scenic beauty of the Ljubljanica River, lined with quaint cafes and adorned with iconic bridges, provided a perfect backdrop for the ESRA Summer School.

Upon arrival, Nadica, Natalija, and Emilija were welcomed with warm hospitality, setting a positive tone for the days ahead.

The first major topic of discussion, marking the first day was web tracking and data donations. With the exponential growth of digital footprints, web tracking has become a pivotal tool in understanding user behaviour. The session delved into various web tracking methodologies, ethical considerations, and practical applications. The emphasis was on harnessing this data responsibly to glean insights without compromising privacy.

Data donations, a relatively novel concept, were also explored. This involves individuals voluntarily sharing their data for research purposes. The discussions highlighted the potential of data donations in enriching research datasets and the need for transparent communication to build trust with data donors. Nadica, Natalija, and Emilija were particularly intrigued by the possibilities that data donations could offer in creating more robust and representative datasets.

Survey methodology was the topic of the second day of the ESRA Summer School program. The sessions covered a broad spectrum of topics, from defining research questions to improving representation. The importance of clear and unbiased question formulation was underscored, along with presenting different kinds of errors that can arise in samples.

The interactive approach allowed participants to engage in hands-on activities, applying theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios. This experiential learning approach was invaluable for Nadica, Natalija, and Emilija, as it provided them with actionable insights to refine their survey practices at Sample Solutions.

The third day was divided between two topics: Probability vs Non-probability samples and the Total Survey Error Framework for cross-national surveys.

One of the most debated topics was the use of probability vs. non-probability samples. Probability sampling, which relies on random selection, is often considered the gold standard for ensuring representativeness. However, the sessions also addressed the increasing relevance of non-probability sampling in situations where traditional methods are impractical or too costly.

The discussions emphasised the strengths and limitations of both approaches. Probability samples provide robust statistical inferences, but non-probability samples, with careful implementation and appropriate weighting adjustments, can also yield valuable insights. The nuanced understanding gained from this session equipped Nadica, Natalija, and Emilija with a balanced perspective, allowing them to make informed decisions when choosing sampling methods for different research contexts.

The concept of the total survey error framework was a crucial component of the curriculum. This framework encompasses all potential sources of error in survey research, including sampling error, measurement error, coverage error, and nonresponse error. By understanding and mitigating these errors, researchers can enhance the accuracy and reliability of their findings.

Through case studies and interactive discussions, participants explored strategies to minimise these errors. The comprehensive approach of the total survey error framework resonated with Nadica, Natalija, and Emilija, reinforcing the importance of meticulous planning and execution in survey research.

Beyond the academic sessions, the ESRA Summer School provided ample opportunities for networking and collaboration. Group activities, and informal discussions fostered connections with peers, especially from the Western Balkans countries and expert researchers. These interactions were instrumental in exchanging ideas, sharing experiences, and building professional relationships that extend beyond the duration of the program.

Nadica, Natalija, and Emilija were particularly impressed by the diversity of perspectives and the collaborative spirit that characterised the event. Engaging with professionals from different backgrounds enriched their understanding and opened new avenues for future collaboration. They were also happy to have met Melvin, a junior researcher from Sweden, working at Novus and share their experiences in sampling and data analysis.

This trip to Ljubljana for the ESRA Summer School 2024 was a transformative experience for Nadica, Natalija, and Emilija. The comprehensive coverage of web tracking and data donations, survey methodology, probability vs. non-probability samples, and the total survey error framework provided them with a deeper understanding of contemporary survey research challenges and innovations.

The knowledge and insights gained from this program are poised to drive Sample Solutions’ commitment to excellence in survey research. As they returned to their professional roles, Nadica, Natalija, and Emilija carried with them not only the learnings from the sessions but also the inspiration and connections that will fuel their future endeavours in the dynamic field of survey methodology.

Elena Babamova
Elena Babamova
Elena Babamova is an experienced professional with 6 years of expertise in sampling and survey research at Sample Solutions. Holding a master's degree in Business Management and International Affairs and fluent in French, Elena excels in providing tailored solutions for clients across French-speaking countries in Europe and Africa, ensuring high-quality and reliable research outcomes.