With a skilled data collection workforce supported by the latest technologies, Westat can seamlessly field, manage, and support studies of any size, complexity, and data collection mode.
Westat offers data collection capabilities built to support some of the largest and most complex research studies. We have an existing network of field and professional staff with expertise in recruiting persons, households, educational institutions, businesses and many other types of organizations for study participation. Our highly trained national workforce of data collectors is supported by a team of experts in operations, IT, training, tracing, help desk support, translation, accessibility, and creative services. These and other data collection capabilities can be leveraged for any size project or data collection mode.
Westat’s ecosystem of integrated tools provides a cost-effective, easily deployed, and standardized management system framework to support field data collection. It is scalable to support research projects from just a few interviewers to thousands, and easily configurable to meet specific project needs.
- Implement project-specific field staff models with appropriate controls to assign and transfer cases, and respond to nonresponse and language issues
- Report progress in real time, including geolocation
- Manage data collection via multiple sources, including mobile, web, and in person
- Support team member coordination to gain participant cooperation
- Manage large-scale assessments such as those conducted at schools and nursing facilities
We are experts at recruiting study participants who meet specific requirements, whether the study protocol calls for households, institutions like schools, hospitals, or other establishments, or special populations such as racially/ethnically diverse groups, linguistically isolated groups, children and teens, the elderly, income groups, and rare populations. Using a wide range of modes and outreach methods, we leverage our extensive range of experience in probability-based studies to maximize cooperation, and our network of existing relationships to maximize our outreach efforts for targeted, purposive or convenience studies. We make sure that every study’s recruitment process meets the highest standards of ethics and transparency.
Data Collection Modes
Whatever the mode, or combination of modes, Westat has the data collection capabilities to execute any survey or study design.
Multimode surveys can improve population coverage, increase response rates, reduce cost, save time, and produce higher quality data. Our proprietary multimode management system (M3) allows for seamless integration of modes while controlling protocols, including sample flow and experimental allocation. M3 also holds all the survey data and paradata allowing for data harmonization and reporting across modes and conditions.
Web-based surveys provide faster response and completion times, and allow for advanced complexity and flexibility in survey design. Web-based surveys guide respondents through complex skip patterns as well as impose checks on the logic and range of responses. Westat survey designers and programming staff employ a robust development, user interface, and testing protocol to ensure there are no navigation issues for respondents, and that the instrument is optimized for all devices and platforms. We also ensure that our web surveys meet stringent accessibility guidelines.
In-person data collection offers the highest response rates and the opportunity to collect more kinds of data, such as biospecimens, environmental samples, and observational data. Westat’s unique capabilities include a staff of experienced field supervisors in key locations across the country, and thousands of data collectors with expertise in collecting data on sensitive topics and from a broad range of respondent populations.
Westat is a pioneer in the use of CAVI, which offers a cost-effective and convenient way to conduct interviews. CAVI allows interviewers to read respondents’ facial expressions and other body cues, gauge understanding and distraction, and build rapport. Learn more about how we use CAVI.
Westat provides centralized calling facilities, using a nationwide workforce of telephone interviewers, working both in center and from their homes to provide virtually unlimited data collection capabilities. Our advanced platforms and tools optimize calling efficiencies, and support call management, automated dialing, scheduling, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), and inbound calls.
Westat’s integrated print/mail/receipt operations can execute address-based sampling (ABS) data collections, push-to-web letter mailings, and advance notice mailings. We utilize professional forms-based design software to create professional, scannable paper surveys to ensure ease of response and high quality data. We employ best practices for managing paper survey administration, including receipt control, scanning, verification, data cleaning, file preparation, and quality control in all processing and mail operations. And we have industry-leading capabilities in incentives management, forms receipt, scanning, intelligent data capture, post-collection data processing, and data delivery preparation. Our centralized solutions save costs, shorten schedules, and ensure quality.
Environmental and Biological Sampling
Westat’s protocols for handling environmental and biological specimens are tested, reliable, and safe. We strive for 100% accuracy in all aspects of handling specimens, including temperature monitoring, and cross-checking of prior consents and kit expirations. Our Biological and Environmental Sample Tracking System (BEST) manages and tracks logistics around biological and environmental sample collection, receipt, shipment, processing, and movement among laboratories and researchers throughout a sample’s lifecycle, and integration with inventory and laboratory management systems.
Data Collector Recruitment, Hiring, and Training
Westat’s trusted relationships with thousands of experienced interviewers enables us to recruit and hire quickly at scale and by specialized skill to meet data collection needs in any U.S. location. We develop and deliver customized training in both the general principles of interviewing and the specific requirements of a given study, using distance learning, in-person, or a hybrid of both.
Research Operations Support
Our tracing experts locate and verify contact information for study respondents, consistent with study protocols. They work closely with the project’s Institutional Review Board representatives (IRB) [insert link] and study managers to maintain security and confidentiality of all study information.
Project-specific help desks provide support for all modes of data collection through centralized call management systems. Help desk coordinators are Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certified staff who work closely with projects on all stages of project planning, setup, and execution. All project contact details are tracked, and detailed reporting is provided.
Westat’s translation team helps develop materials—survey instruments, advanced letters and other outreach materials, study protocols, and informed consents—in any language needed, and provides subtitling and voice-over services for video and multimedia production. When bilingual data collectors are needed, we coordinate and conduct language proficiency assessments in any main language.
Westat takes equitable access very seriously, and we understand that accessibility should be considered and planned for in all phases of a project lifecycle. Our dedicated team of accessibility experts, many certified DHS Trusted Testers, stay current with the latest standards and technologies for designing, developing, and testing digital products. This team supports the creation of digital products that meet Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Priority Levels A and AA of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1).
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