A new book Chronicles from the Field: The Townsend Thai Project provides a behind-the-scenes look at putting together one of the most impressive data collection projects in development - Rob Townsend’s Thai data, which has conducted monthly surveys on a panel of Thai households for over 150 consecutive months, as well as annual surveys. The Townsend Thai data is available online and has spurred a number of research papers by Rob and his co-authors. This book looks at what it takes to produce all this data.
About 15 years ago, when I was doing my dissertation research with a professor with experience in fieldwork, we did a 15 round survey with households in Ghana. Given the frequency of the visits, we based the enumerators in the village. But we were careful to hire enumerators from nearby big towns -- not the villages in which we were working. This was partly for skills, but mostly to make sure that the enumerators wouldn't be asking sensitive questions of people they knew.
Researchers have long recognized the importance of choosing interviewer characteristics while designing their fieldwork – for example female interviewers are often utilized to explore topics related to domestic violence and respondents of both sexes are more likely to disclose sexual abuse to female interviewers than to male ones. Another key consideration is the degree of familiarity between interviewer and respondent, but here the decision appears to be obvious.
- interviewer effects