GESIS Training Courses

Scientific Coordination

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

Administrative Coordination

Jacqueline Schüller
Tel: +49 0221 47694-160

Course 1: Introduction to Survey Design

Course duration
Mo: 10:00-17:00 CEST
Tu-Fr: 09:00-17:00 CEST
General Topics:
Course Level:
Software used:
5 days
Students: 500 €
Academics: 750 €
Commercial: 1500 €
Additional links
Lecturer(s): Prof. Dr. Bella Struminskaya, Prof. Dr. Peter Lugtig

About the lecturer - Prof. Dr. Bella Struminskaya

About the lecturer - Prof. Dr. Peter Lugtig

Course description

Please note: This class is an ON-SITE class. On-site participation at KOMED MediaPark Cologne only!
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 on-side through lectures, 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).
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:
  • are thinking about conducting a quantitative survey themselves;
  • use survey data and wish to understand its potential errors;
  • are Master or PhD students preparing their own survey;
  • are researchers who collaborate within a survey research project.
    The course is tailored to those relatively new to the area of survey methodology and plan to conduct their own survey in the future. The course does not provide an introduction into data analysis of survey data. Rather, it is focused on the design of surveys.

    Learning objectives

    By the end of the course participants will:
  • have a good grasp of the complexities of interacting survey errors;
  • be able to design a survey project themselves 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 (12 August).


  • 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).
  • All students need to send a brief summary of their experience with surveys (about 0.5 page) and the questions they have about how to design surveys before the start of the course to the instructors
  • Participants should be prepared to share information about the survey they are planning on conducting, they are currently involved with or would like to conduct in the future.
    Software and Hardware Requirements
  • Participants might wish to bring a laptop (e.g., to work on exercises/assignments) but not obligatory.
  • No software is required. This course does not include the use of statistical software.
    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!