GESIS Training Courses

Scientific Coordination

Sebastian E. Wenz
Tel: +49 221 47694-159

Administrative Coordination

Jacqueline Schüller
Tel: +49 0221 47694-160

Course 1: Factorial Survey Design

Cologne/Unter Sachsenhausen 6-8
Course Duration
Mo: 10:00-17:00 CEST
Tu-Th: 9:00 - 16:30 CEST
Fr: 9:00 - 14:30 CEST
General Topics:
Course Level:
Software used:
Students: 550 €
Academics: 825 €
Commercial: 1650 €
Additional links
Lecturer(s): Katrin Auspurg, Alisia Bauer, Carsten Sauer

About the lecturer - Katrin Auspurg

About the lecturer - Alisia Bauer

About the lecturer - Carsten Sauer

Course description

The factorial survey design (“vignette analysis”) is a method that integrates multi-factorial experimental set-ups into surveys. Respondents are asked to evaluate hypothetical situations, objects, or persons. By systematically varying attributes of the descriptions, it is possible to determine their influence on respondents' stated attitudes, decisions, or choices. The experimental variation of the stimuli makes it possible to estimate the influence of each attribute on the evaluation. The factorial survey method is therefore an appropriate instrument for testing theoretical predictions. Moreover, because the experiment is embedded in a survey questionnaire, it is possible to reach heterogeneous sample populations.
This course provides a theoretical and practical overview of factorial survey methods. You will gain practical insights into all the single steps necessary to design a factorial survey experiment: (1) construction of vignettes, (2) selection of an experimental design, (3) drafting and programming of questionnaires (for online surveys as well as paper and pencil surveys), (4) data management, and (5) data analysis techniques (e.g., multilevel analyses, willingness to pay estimates). The course is structured as follows: Instructors will provide an overview on factorial survey experiments and explain practical tasks. You work on the tasks in individual “hands on” exercises. For the practical exercises, you may choose a research question related to your own research (e.g., PhD project).
For practical analyses, the statistical software package Stata will be used (prior knowledge required!). For setting up experimental designs and programming of questionnaires we additionally use the software packages SAS and QuestBack (no prior knowledge required). The method is NOT connected to (confirmatory or explorative) factor analysis. Moreover, the course does not cover anchoring and video vignettes.
The full syllabus of the course including the day-to-day schedule will be published here in April.

Target group

You will find the course useful if:
  • you want to learn about survey-experimental designs to study attitudes, preferences, or behavioral intentions,
  • you have initial ideas for your own research questions that could be realized using a factorial survey,
  • you plan to conduct a factorial survey in your own (PhD) projects,
  • you want to deepen your knowledge of experimental designs and quantitative statistical methods,
  • you want to learn how to analyze data from experimental designs and factorial surveys and evaluate the quality of such data.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you will:
  • have learned and discussed the features, typical applications, advantages, and shortcomings of factorial survey methods, 
  • have acquired practical insights into all single steps that are needed to set up factorial survey designs, to implement them into (computer assisted) questionnaires, to analyze resulting data, and report on results,
  • be familiar with practical methods to evaluate data quality gained by factorial survey methods,  
  • have gained some insights into related experimental survey methods such as conjoint analyses and choice experiments,
  • be able to apply factorial survey methods on your own.
Organizational structure of the course
The course consists of 4 hours of classroom instruction and individual exercises in the afternoon.
Classroom instruction: The instructors provide an overview of different methodological aspects of factorial survey design, including statistical, experimental and survey methodology background, and explain the tasks for the hands-on exercises.
Individual exercises: In each exercise, you are expected to work on assignments in the classroom. You may use these exercises to advance factorial survey designs that are related to your own research projects (e.g., PhD projects) and discuss the results with other participants and the instructors. The instructors are available in the classroom for 2 hours to assist with the exercises or to discuss specific research problems. If time permits, you may consult instructors for more extensive help and guidance on your personal projects.


  • You should be familiar with the statistical software package Stata before the course starts (i.e., command structure, do-files, use of ados).
  • You should have basic knowledge of questionnaire design and experimental methods.
  • Methodical knowledge of data management and quantitative data analyses (e.g., linear regression techniques, coding of variables, merging of data sets) is required.  
Software and hardware requirements
You will need to bring a laptop computer to successfully participate in this course.
You will need access to Stata and R. GESIS will provide you with short term licenses for Stata for the duration of the course if needed. R ( and RStudio ( are free and open source.
You should have the following Stata ados installed on your computer before the course starts:
The lecturers will provide exercises and solutions for Stata. Participants might also work with R. However, the lecturers are not familiar enough with R to answer questions concerning R syntax or help debug code during the course. Such support is only available for Stata users.
In addition, you will need the following software:  
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • PDF-Reader

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