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Improving Surveys, Census

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Survey and polling results inform decisions large and small. From politics and government to business and social issues, sound choices depend on accurate information.

A team of UNL researchers is partnering with the Gallup Organization, a survey research industry leader, to improve the accuracy of survey data. They’re focusing on computer-assisted survey methods, including the Internet and computer-assisted telephone interviews. Their goal is to improve data quality by finding ways to reduce errors and by developing better survey tools and approaches.

Left: Jim Clifton speaks via video feed during an announcement at Gallup’s Riverfront Campus, Omaha, Neb. Top right: Allan McCutcheon. Bottom right: Research team, standing, from left, Phil Ruhlman, Gallup; Allan McCutcheon, UNL; Gale Muller, Gallup; and Leen-Kiat Soh, UNL. Seated, from left, Jolene Smyth, Robert Belli and Kristen Olson, all UNL.

“This truly is a team effort,” said Allan McCutcheon, the Donald O. Clifton Chair of Survey Science in UNL’s Survey Research and Methodology Program/Gallup Research Center, who leads this project. UNL’s team includes experts in statistics, psychology, sociology, survey research and methodology, and computer science.

Gallup will collect survey data and UNL researchers will analyze it. Gallup has an international reputation for its survey research and public opinion polling, and conducts surveys in more than 150 countries.

“Our unique partnership with this industry leader is invaluable and ensures we’ll provide high-quality results,” McCutcheon said.

Funded by a nearly $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Census Bureau, the five-year project also aims to find more accurate, cost-effective ways to conduct the U.S. Census. The Census Bureau and NSF are looking for ideas to modernize the census and other federally mandated data-collection activities.

This is the latest collaboration in a long-standing relationship between Gallup and UNL.

“I hope this is just the beginning,” Jim Clifton, Gallup’s chair and CEO, said when the grant was announced. “We’re dreaming up a lot of big things. I believe that the University of Nebraska and Gallup together with some new programs … can change the world.”