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Failing in the FieldWhat We Can Learn When Field Research Goes Wrong$
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Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691183138

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691183138.001.0001

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Survey and Measurement Execution Problems

Survey and Measurement Execution Problems

(p.51) Chapter 4 Survey and Measurement Execution Problems
Failing in the Field

Dean Karlan

Jacob Appel

Princeton University Press

This chapter assesses survey and measurement execution problems in field research. Until recently, the vast majority of surveys in development field studies were done the old-fashioned way, on clipboards with pen and paper. The past five years have seen a huge shift toward electronic data collection using laptops, personal digital assistants (PDAs), or even smartphones. This has several advantages but also poses risks. It requires electricity to charge devices, often a challenge in rural areas of developing countries. Still, even as laptops, tablets, PDAs, and other technologies are incorporated, surveying remains a very human process. On the upside: surveyors can adapt, interpret, and problem-solve when necessary. On the downside: surveyors can adapt, interpret, and problem-solve whenever they want, which can substantially impact respondents' answers. Meanwhile, some researchers prefer to use measurement tools that capture data directly, without asking questions. The problem with measurement tools is that they do not always work as advertised.

Keywords:   survey, measurement tools, development field studies, data collection, electronic data collection, surveying

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