GESIS Training Courses

Scientific Coordination

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

Administrative Coordination

Jacqueline Schüller
Tel: +49 0221 47694-160

Course 7: Factorial Survey Design

Course duration
Mo: 10:00-17:00 CEST
Tu-Th: 09:00-16:30 CEST
Fr: 09:00-14:30 CEST
General Topics:
Course Level:
Software used:
Stata and R
5 days
Students: 500 €
Academics: 750 €
Commercial: 1500 €
Additional links
Lecturer(s): Prof. Dr. Katrin Auspurg, Prof. Dr. Carsten Sauer, Sabine Düval

About the lecturer - Prof. Dr. Katrin Auspurg

About the lecturer - Prof. Dr. Carsten Sauer

About the lecturer - Sabine Düval

Course description

Please note: This class is an ON-SITE class. On-site participation at KOMED MediaPark Cologne only!
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. Participants 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. Participants work on the tasks in individual “hands on” exercises. For the practical exercises, participants may choose a research question related to their own research (e.g., PhD project).
For most practical analyses, the statistical software package Stata will be used (prior knowledge required!). For setting up experimental designs and programming of questionnaires we 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.
For additional details on the course and a day-to-day schedule, please download the full-length syllabus.

Target group

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

  • Learning objectives

    By the end of the course participants 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 analyse 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 their own.
    Organizational Structure of the Course
    The course consists of 4 hours of classroom instruction (9:00-13:00) 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, participants are expected to work on assignments in the PC pool. Participants may use these exercises to advance factorial survey designs that are related to their own research projects (e.g., PhD projects) and discuss the results with other participants and the instructors. The instructors are available in the PC pool for 2 hours to assist with the exercises or to discuss specific research problems. If time permits, participants may consult instructors for more extensive help and guidance on their personal projects.


  • Participants should be familiar with the statistical software package Stata before the course starts (i.e., command structure, do-files, use of ados).
  • Participants 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).
    Software and Hardware Requirements
    Participants will need to bring a laptop computer to successfully participate in this course.
    Exercises and solutions for both Stata and R will be provided by the lecturers. However, the lecturers are not familiar enough with R to answer questions concerning R syntax or help debugging code during the course. Such support is only available for Stata users.
    GESIS will provide participants with Stata short term licences for Stata for the duration of the course.
    Covid-19 related regulations for on-site classes
    Although there are currently no legal requirements due to the Covid-19 pandemic for participation in our on-site training events, we suggest that you adhere to the recommendations given on the following site:
    Please note that regulations might change on short notice depending on the nationwide or local state of the pandemic. We therefore suggest that you only register for an on-site class, if you are fully vaccinated (according to EU law) by the time the class starts and are willing to wear a mask in the GESIS building and in class.
    Participants from abroad should make sure that they understand and fulfill the requirements to enter Germany as summarized on this website.
    Please find more general information on our Covid-19 info website and carefully read all emails we send to you. Thank you, stay safe and healthy!