Statistical Design Group

The Survey Research Center (SRC) Statistical Design Group (SDG) is an open-access resource for the Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research and University of Michigan researchers and methodologists seeking statistical design and survey methodology advice related to prospective, newly funded or ongoing survey data collections.

Faculty in the Survey Methodology Program and senior management and professional staff of the Survey Research Operations unit comprise the core membership of the Statistical Design Group. As part of the our training mission, Ph.D. students in the Michigan Program in Survey Methods are also invited to attend and contribute to the Statistical Design Group discussion sessions on real world issues of survey design and methodology.

Examples of the research design and methodology topics that are brought to Statistical Design Group for discussion include (but are not limited to):

  • Sampling and statistical designs for new proposals, responsive designs
  • Survey measurement, questionnaire design, translation of instruments
  • Survey data collection mode choices, multi-mode survey designs
  • Survey recruitment strategies, screening methods, incentive plans, response rate strategies
  • Hard to survey populations, special populations, international survey studies
  • Methods for nonresponse adjustment and treatment of item missing data
  • Variance estimation, modeling and inference from survey data
  • Integrating survey data, administrative data and other forms of big data;Advanced uses of survey data (e.g. small area and spatial statistics, multi-level analyses)

Design and Survey Consultation

Initial consultations with the Statistical Design Group are free of charge and are open to all SRC, ISR and University of Michigan research staff. External (non-UM) researchers who use or intend to use the SRC SRO survey design and data collections services are also encouraged to seek advice through the SRC SDG.

Initial sessions typically begin with a one-hour, informal discussion during the weekly time slot that is reserved for SDG group meetings (Friday morning, 9:30-10:30). These one-hour discussions are intentionally organized as informal, “brain storming” discussions. To keep the barrier to using this consultative service low, no extensive background or formal presentation of the topic is required of the guest researcher(s). Typically a short 1-2 page summary of the topic along with relevant supporting data or documents is all that is required to inform the SDG membership and promote a focused discussion.

Should the initial SDG consultation suggests that more extensive follow-up is both needed and desired, SDG is able to refer researchers to appropriate contacts in the SRC/SRO professional staff, SMP survey methodology faculty or the larger SRC primary research staff.

Scheduling a Consultation

Researchers who wish to consult with the SRC SDG on survey research design or methodology should contact Steve Heeringa, SDG Director, at or Sumi Rajendran, SDG meeting coordinator at