ECPR Summer School in Methods and Techniques University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

July 28 through August 1,2014  

New Course: Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) [Using social networks to sample and analyse data from hard to reach and hidden populations]

Imagine wanting to conduct a large (100+) survey of Sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco, former survivors or perpetrators of the massacre in Rwanda, females raped during the war in Congo, protesters against former president Mubarak in Egypt or former members of the FMLN in El Salvador. Because of their particular circumstances, it is difficult to generate a sampling frame from which to gather a representative sample from these populations. They are considered hidden and hard-to-reach populations for survey research purposes. At the same time, they are potentially networked (i.e., they know each other), such that you may be able to find a handful of group members through their contacts with governmental and non-organizations and other sources. What is the best sampling method you could use to capture these types of populations? Can you do something other than using a convenience sampling method such as snowball sampling?

Led by Lisa G. Johnston (PhD, Tulane University, USA; University of California, San Francisco, USA), author of the internationally acclaimed manual on this method, this course provides methodological and analytical instruction on using respondent driven sampling (RDS) to conduct large (100+) quantitative surveys on hard to reach and hidden populations.

Because most hard-to-reach populations have no sampling frames from which to draw a probability sample, researchers often rely on convenience sampling methods; but these can provide biased and non-representative data. Over the past decade, RDS has been highlighted as an effective method to sample populations connected through social networks. RDS has been used successfully to gather quantitative data on the work and living standards of migrant populations, salaries and union membership of jazz musicians, political affiliations and life experiences of Vietnam veterans, injecting behaviors of people who inject drugs, sexual risk of sex workers, school enrolment and income earning of youth who live on the streets, partnerships of men who have sex with men, pregnancies related to sexual violence among women in the Congo, and numerous other outcomes among populations that are networked through political and other social affiliations.

The course will draw on a variety of lectures, presentations of actual field research, observational field research exercises, hands-on analysis and practical experience in designing studies using RDS.

This course is important for those interested in collecting representative samples of socially networked hidden and hard-to-reach populations.  

For further information about course fees, ECTS credits, and Ljubljana itself, please visit the Summer School page. 


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