Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Tutorial: Introduction to Survey Design



Ethnographers tend to be uneasy about survey research. Some of us shun it because it seems “reductive” of human experience; others are intimidated by complex methods and analytics that weren’t part of our research training. But surveys are everywhere—some are rigorous and insightful, many are lousy. Whether we’re conducting surveys, collaborating with colleagues who do, or interpreting survey-based studies, an understanding of survey research fundamentals is essential.

Tutorial offers survey basics from an ethnographer and survey methodologist who collaborate at the world’s leading provider of media and marketing information. Their crash course on survey fundamentals includes:

  • when to use surveys and why
  • basics of survey design
  • writing effective survey questions
  • evaluating survey quality
  • the total survey error framework
  • how ethnographers and survey researchers can add value to each others’ work

This tutorial is designed for beginning survey questionnaire writer with a background in qualitative research, or people who would like to learn how to ask better survey questions. It will focus on how to create measures. It will NOT cover how to analyze survey data. 

This tutorial was presented in full at EPIC202020. The video includes instructor presentations; discussions and breakout sessions are excluded for the privacy of the participants.


Jennifer Hunsecker is an anthropologist who is interested in the way that people interact with and respond to institutions, especially businesses and schools. She is currently a senior data scientist at Nielsen, with a focus on qualitative research and panelist recruitment. She regularly works to connect her academic training to key business outcomes, with a particular goal of keeping humanity and empathy at the forefront of all that she does.  She has worked at Nielsen since 2015.  Prior to her work at Nielsen, she worked at and attended the University of South Florida, where she earned both a Master’s and PhD in applied anthropology. Read a sample of Jennifer’s work.

Lauren Walton is a director of behavioral methods who has worked on Nielsen panels and surveys in the Media business. She has 10 years of expertise in survey research and methodology. She is an advocate for Nielsen research participants and the leading voice in Qualitative Methods in the organization. She is an expert in focus groups, in-depth interviews, UX testing, eye tracking, and recruitment materials. Lauren has led the modernization of the TV Diary, deployment and design of the Nielsen Computer and Mobile panel, and R&D on what is Attention measurement.  She holds a Master’s in Survey Research and Methodology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Read more about Lauren’s work.


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