GESIS Training Courses

Scientific Coordination

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

Administrative Coordination

Jacqueline Schüller
Tel: +49 0221 47694-160

Course 7: Introduction to Survey Design

Cologne/Unter Sachsenhausen 6-8
Course Duration
Mo: 10:00-17:00 CEST
Tu-Fr: 09:00-16:00 CEST
General Topics:
Course Level:
Software used:
Students: 550 €
Academics: 825 €
Commercial: 1650 €
Additional links
Lecturer(s): Peter Lugtig, Bella Struminskaya

About the lecturer - Peter Lugtig

About the lecturer - Bella Struminskaya

Course description

This course gives an introductory overview of the design and implementation of surveys from the initial planning phase to the data preparation as a final step. Topics include survey mode assessment and selection, sampling frames and designs, nonresponse, questionnaire design, cognitive pretesting, assessing measurement errors, and data editing. The course is taught from a Total Survey Error perspective weighing data quality at each step of the process against associated costs.
This class is mainly targeted at master and Ph.D. Students that plan on conducting their own surveys.
The course is taught through in-class presentations, group exercises as well as personal tutorial meetings that give participants the opportunity to discuss their own survey designs. Each day we will discuss a specific topic that each focuses on one or more aspects of survey design within the Total Survey Error framework.
First, the choice of the survey mode is discussed, and how different ways to sample respondents follow from that choice. On the second day, we focus on the issue of survey nonresponse - how to prevent, analyze, and correct for it. On the third and fourth day, the actual survey content is discussed - how to write survey questions, make sure that they measure what they are intended to measure, test them, and finally, how to assess whether survey data are of good quality. On the final day, we focus on data coding and maximizing quality. We conclude with an overview perspective of all survey errors and their interaction with survey costs.
The course will be applicable to surveys of individuals, households, and organizations in different survey modes: mail, face-to-face, web, and paper-and-pencil surveys.
Please note that this is an introductory course (see also course prerequisites and target group).
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:
  • are thinking about conducting a quantitative survey yourself,
  • use survey data and wish to understand its potential errors,
  • are a Master or PhD student preparing your own survey,
  • are a researcher who collaborates within a survey research project.
The course is tailored to those relatively new to the area of survey methodology and who plan to conduct their own survey in the future. The course does not provide an introduction to data analysis of survey data. Rather, it is focused on the design of surveys.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you will:
  • have a good grasp of the complexities of interacting survey errors,
  • be able to design a survey project yourself taking the possibility of survey errors into account,
  • be prepared for more specialized courses at the GESIS Summer School.
Organizational structure of the course
The course days contain four hours of classroom instruction and two hours of tutored individual and group exercises, during which the instructors are available for support. The lectures will include a mix of frontal teaching, short exercises, and question-based discussions. The exercises will take place in the GESIS open study areas in the afternoon and are usually based on group work. There is no obligatory exercise planned for the last afternoon.


  • No previous experience in survey research is needed; however, some basic practical experience in conducting surveys and analyzing data will be beneficial.
  • A basic understanding of statistics is assumed, at the level of basic inferential statistics (t-tests).
  • You need to send a brief summary of your experience with surveys (about 0.5 page) and the questions you have about how to design surveys before 31 July 2024 to
  • You should be prepared to share information about the survey you are planning on conducting, you are currently involved with or would like to conduct in the future.
Software and hardware requirements
  • You may wish to bring a laptop (e.g., to work on exercises/assignments) but this is not obligatory.
  • No software is required. This course does not include the use of statistical software.

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