Our decades of experience and innovative strategies in sampling, multimode data collection, and instrument development ensure high-quality, cost-effective, and representative data collection for surveys of any size and scope.
Westat has 60 years of experience designing surveys of all sizes, from small qualitative studies, to the largest national household and school-based studies, to the U.S. component of multinational studies. We bring forward practical knowledge with every application, balancing experience with innovation, applying the latest multimode data collection strategies, interview techniques, and data management and harmonization methods to our studies. Our team includes experts in subject matter, statistics, survey methodology, and programming who leverage our IT and data collection infrastructure to help clients achieve their goals, regardless of project scale or scope.
Our world-renowned statisticians and survey methodologists, including nine Senior Statistical Fellows and eight Fellows of the American Statistical Association, bring rigorous research capabilities to design high-quality, cost-effective, representative data collections for Westat clients.
Our cost-effective, tailored sampling methods are grounded in probability-based designs and best practices. For general population samples, designs include address-based and multistage sampling, as well as targeted methods such as small group sampling and network sampling. For surveys of specific populations such as Medicare recipients, healthcare providers or school-age children, we sample from population list frames using combinations of stratified, multi-stage, balanced and systematic sampling. To minimize sampling bias, we use fully reproducible random sampling at all selection steps, and ensure that the frames are representative of the population. Our designs achieve the sample sizes and precision levels required by the study objectives and include adaptive methods to address obstacles to equity.
Westat has extensive experience designing and fielding cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, including some of most complex and longest-term civilian population studies conducted to date. These studies represent a variety of study designs, data collection modes, subject matter, populations, respondent incentive schemes and contact protocols, and data collection intervals. Scalable corporate based systems that support management of a range of study designs, from simple to very complex, ensure our teams can focus on quality implementation that promotes equity and project specific goals throughout the lifecycle. Our cross-sectional designs allow researchers to look at characteristics in a population. Our longitudinal study design helps clients explore trends, examine interventions, or track changes in attitudes or behaviors.
Westat’s flexible survey management system supports scheduling; communications with study participants via email and text/SMS messages; management of incentives, and production monitoring including response rates, detailed response status and the flow of cases across more than one mode of collection, QC, and reporting. The system design allows for tailored protocol implementation across each of these functions. Such systems help us monitor activities in real-time via dashboards and make data-informed adjustments as needed. Our dashboards provide visibility to clients with real-time information on study progress, provide statisticians with a way to monitor sampling rates, and provides the data needed to tweak study contact protocols to address observed participation patterns.
Westat brings unmatched expertise in survey instrument development, including qualitative research such as focus groups, cognitive interviews, and usability testing; questionnaire design and content development for multiple data collection modes; and advanced instrument programming capabilities.
Survey methodologists, subject matter experts and operations specialists work together to carefully craft our survey instruments to ensure that questions are clear, unbiased, and aligned with research objectives. Our team is experienced in developing surveys for special populations, covering sensitive topics, and incorporating multicultural and multilingual designs. Our facilities include an onsite laboratory for conducting focus groups, cognitive interviews and usability testing. Additionally, our team uses modern approaches for virtual testing of survey instruments and questionnaires, building greater equity into our pretesting and question development processes.
Our multimode data collection strategies maximize survey response and data quality. We select optimal modes, combination of modes, and data collection protocols to fit the study population and research goals to minimize bias, while controlling costs. Our technological solutions allow us to effortlessly design, track, and analyze multimode research. Learn more about the Future of Multimode Survey Designs or Westat’s data collection methods and capabilities.
Westat uses leading commercial and custom survey software that seamlessly integrates with powerful survey data management, dashboard reporting, and data delivery platforms to provide end-to-end solutions to our clients. Our survey software tools and platforms easily scale to accommodate small- to large-scale data collection efforts and support all data collection modes. Learn more about Westat’s key survey platforms, Blaise and Survey Builder.
Our clients depend on high-quality data to draw valid conclusions about the population or issue being studied, and to inform research agendas, curriculum, policy, and regulations at a national, state or local level. Our comprehensive approach builds data quality at every stage of development and processing, and within every stage and mode of data collection.
We collect and analyze data on the survey process and data itself to monitor quality and identify areas for improvement throughout the lifecyle of a project. This allows us to identify and address issues as they arise, rather than waiting until data collection is complete.
We systematically compare the characteristics of respondents to nonrespondents to identify possible biases in our results so that adjustments can be made to address them. When appropriate, we supplement this with comparisons to external information such as results of other comparable surveys or other data sources.
Interviewer monitoring plays a crucial role in minimizing errors and biases. This involves ensuring that interviewers are adhering to the study protocol, asking questions accurately and consistently, and collecting high-quality data from the respondents. We employ a variety of monitoring techniques to achieve this, ranging from basic observation and quality control procedures to cutting-edge machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) tools. Our custom computer-assisted recorded interviewing (CARI) system enables near real time assessment of both interviewer and question performance, while our custom EAGLE platform enables 100% of field monitoring at scale. Learn more about these and our other research support tools.
We use a variety of methods, including pretesting, response rate analysis, checks for consistency, data cleaning, statistical analysis, and post-survey validation to ensure that our survey results are reliable and accurate.
Integration of Survey Data with Other Data Sources
Westat is a leader in data integration, with extensive expertise in using survey data together with other data sets, such as administrative, electronic health records, or environmental data, to conduct statistically representative analyses. Our team of data experts uses advanced tools and techniques to ensure that the integrated data sets are accurate, reliable, and secure. By integrating data from multiple sources, we help clients leverage existing data sets to gain a more comprehensive understanding of their research questions and offer insights that would be impossible to obtain with survey data alone.
Meet the Team
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)What does the “Nation’s Report Card” tell us about how American children are learning?
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)How do you compare literacy skills of adults from around the world?
Institute of Education Sciences (IES)How can one examine the policies promoted by Title I/II program initiatives?
Deep Dive with Our Experts
Book ChapterMixed methods in survey research
John Hitchcock, Allison Crean DavisSOURCE
Journal ArticleStatistical data integration using multilevel models to predict employee compensation
Canadian Journal of Statistics
A.L. Erciulescu, Jean Opsomer, B.J. Schneider
Journal ArticleHealth-related quality of life in children and adolescents with pleuropulmonary blastoma: A report from the International PPB/DICER1 Registry
Pediatric Blood and Cancer
A.T. Nelson, A. Dybvik, P. Mallinger, S.W. McQuaid, D. Watson, L.A. Harney, D.R. Stewart, L.P. Dehner, Y.H. Messinger, A.S. Kunin-Batson, K.A.P. SchultzSOURCE