Cologne, Germany

Factorial Survey Designs

when 19 August 2019 - 23 August 2019
language English
duration 1 week
credits 4 EC
fee EUR 300

The factorial survey (“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 stimuli allows estimating the influence of each attribute on the evaluation; the factorial survey is therefore an appropriate instrument to test theoretical predictions. As the experiment is embedded in a survey questionnaire, it is additionally possible to reach heterogeneous sample populations. This course gives a theoretical and practical overview of factorial survey methods. Participants will get practical insights into all single steps necessary to design factorial survey experiments: (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 (such as multilevel analyses, estimations of willingness to pay). Participants may select a research question related to their own research for practical exercises. For most practical analyses the statistical software package Stata will be used (basic prior knowledge needed). For setting up experimental designs and programming of questionnaires we use the software packages SAS and QuestBack (no prior knowledge is needed). The method is NOT connected to (confirmatory or explorative) factor analysis. Moreover, the course does not include anchoring and video vignettes.

Course leader

Prof. Dr. Katrin Auspurg holds a full professorship in Sociology, area Quantitative Methods of Empirical Research, Dept. of Sociology at the LMU Munich.
Dr. Carsten Sauer is a research fellow at the Department of Sociology at Radboud University Nijmegen.

Target group

Participants will find the course useful if they:
- want to learn about survey-experimental designs to study attitudes or decisions;
- 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 projects;
- want to deepen their knowledge of experimental designs and quantitative statistical methods;
- want to learn how to analyze data from experimental designs and factorial surveys and evaluate the quality of such data.

Participants should
- be familiar with the statistical software package Stata before the course starts (i.e., command structure, do-files, ados);
- have basic knowledge of questionnaire design and experimental methods;
- have methodical knowledge of data management and quantitative data analyses (e.g. linear regression techniques, coding of variables, merging of data sets).
Participants will not need to bring a laptop computer for this course as the course takes place in a computer lab.

Course aim

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 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 their own.

Credits info

4 EC
- Certificate of attendance issued upon completion.
Optional bookings:
- 4 ECTS points via the University of Mannheim for regular attendance and satisfactory work on daily assignments and for submitting a paper/report of about 5000 words to the lectur-er(s) up to 4 weeks after the end of the summer school (EUR 50).

Fee info

EUR 300: Student/PhD student rate.
EUR 450: Academic/non-profit rate.
The rates include the tuition fee, course materials, the academic program, access to library and IT facilities, coffee/tea, and a number of social activities.


10 DAAD scholarships are available via the Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology (ISS) of the University of Cologne.
5 scholarships for participation in one main course are available from the European Survey Research Association (ESRA).