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. 


Toolbox for conducting integrated HIV bio-behavioral surveillance (IBBS) in key populations

Improving health and reducing inequities worldwide

This toolbox is for governments, nongovernmental organizations, and private researchers who wish to implement IBBS surveys for key populations at higher risk for HIV infection. The toolbox features two methods

  • Time location sampling (TLS)
  • Respondent driven sampling (RDS)

These methods focus on three key populations at higher risk for HIV infection

  • Female sex workers (FSW)
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • Persons who inject drugs (PWID)

However, these tools are easily modifiable for other sampling designs as appropriate. This tool box is complete with everything you would need to implement a survey. These documents are based on our years of experience implementing IBBS all over the world, including San Francisco, CA, USA; eight countries in Africa; Brazil; China and the Caribbean.

Posted by BRYANT Research Systems

ECPR Summer School in Methods and Techniques 2014

The ECPR has an annual summer school program and this year they will have a course on RDS methods and analysis. 

24 July – 9 August 2014, University of Ljubljana

For more information please see:

RDS Coupon Manager

BRYANT Research Systems has developed an all in one coupon manager system. No more need for excel spreadsheets or preprinted coupons. The system generates it all.
For error free data collection and intact networks look no further. The system has been used in South Africa for the past 4 years without any data errors. It is simple and easy to use in the field.

BRYANT Research Systems has created a web based respondent driven sampling research management system to assist in the collection of data of a respondent driven sampling research site or multiple concurrent study sites. The system ensures the quality and the integrity of the data collected in real time. The system allows for offsite monitoring.

BRYANT Research Systems developed respondent driven sampling software that generates the unique serial numbering used to link a participant and their social network and convert it into a barcode. QR and standard barcodes are compatible with the system.

The respondent driven sampling participant data is linked to unique serial number and attached to any hard copies and laboratory samples for easy capturing. The laboratory can be linked to capture results directly onto the system. The participant is tracked throughout the research site via the unique barcode.

The BRYANT System includes Audio, Video Questionnaire System at no extra cost.

For more information please visit

[RDS] Population size estimation and Data analysis course using RDS Analyst (R based program)

The WHO Collaborating Centre for HIV Surveillance is conducting a course on analyzing data with RDS Analyst and estimating population sizes using only RDS data and a priori knowledge of population size parameters. 

RDS Analyst is a new software built into R program that provides numerous RDS analysis (most up to date estimators) and diagnoses capabilities. 

 Dates:  March 17-21, 2014

Location:  Zagreb, Croatia

 For more information, please see

Call for Abstracts, “Multidisciplinary Perspectives on RDS Inference” Track

Call for Abstracts, “Multidisciplinary Perspectives on RDS Inference” Track
for Sunbelt XXXIV in St Pete Beach, FL, February 18 – 23, 2014

Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) is an effective social network based recruitment tool to reach hidden populations at high risk of HIV and other blood borne diseases. RDS is also a sampling method to which statistical models have been widely applied in an effort to generate population inferences. These models contain certain assumptions that may in practice be difficult to meet. For instance, most RDS inference models rely on participants’ accurate reporting of social network size and composition, and are based on underlying assumptions about participants’ social network structure, peer recruitment behavior, and recruitment processes. The validity of RDS inference is subject to question if any of these assumptions are violated in the sample recruitment process. At the moment there is a disjunction whereby epidemiologists and HIV researchers use statistical methods on RDS data unaware that they rely on strong assumptions while statisticians rely on unrealistic assumptions to justify the methods they develop. The better use of RDS data to produce better point estimates and appropriate measure of certainty call scholars with various expertise to share their knowledge.

Drs. JiangHong Li, Thomas Valente, Robert Heimer, Mark Handcock are organizing a special theme track on “Multidisciplinary Perspectives on RDS Inference” for Sunbelt XXXIV in St Pete Beach, FL, February 18 – 23, 2014 ( We encourage social network researchers, HIV researchers, social behavioral researchers and statisticians who are interested in the one or more of the following areas to submit abstract and join our special theme track:

– Implementation challenges and promises in meeting RDS assumptions in the field;
– Explorations of real RDS datasets to determine if the assumptions are being met and, if not, the extent to which the violations compromise or prevent inference.
– Qualitative and quantitative empirical findings regarding RDS network reporting behavior, peer recruitment behavior patterns and recruitment dynamics;
– Statistical or simulation assessment of RDS model sensitivity to model assumption violation;
– Assessment of RDS performance by comparing with other data sources or simulation with empirical network data;
– Development of improved RDS inference models with more realistic assumptions.
– Development of alternative statistical models to make population estimates using RDS data.
– Development of statistical diagnostics tools to indicate violation of assumptions.
– Related research findings that have implication to RDS development, or contribute to understanding of social network information reporting behaviors, peer recruitment behavior and dynamics.

Interested individuals are encouraged to check conference website for abstract submission guide at and When submitting an abstract for this session, please select “Multidisciplinary Perspectives on RDS Inference” as the keyword for your presentation. To be extra sure, put a note “Multidisciplinary Perspectives on RDS Inference with Li, Valente, Heimer and Handcock) in the “additional notes” box on the abstract submission.

We are looking forward to your contributions. Email any questions to,,,

[RDS] RDSAT 7.1 available with significant new features and enhancements.

We are pleased to announce a new version of RDSAT with new data import tools, table builder and batch processing features. The older RDSAT interface is still shown by default, but you can access the batch mode features by clicking the “Batch Mode” tab below the menu bar.

With the new Batch Mode, you can:
– Import data from delimited text files with column name header (preferred) or SAS xprt (no more manually crafting RDS headers)!
– Define the same set of analyses to a set of data files (for multi-site studies).
– Save the results of analyses to Excel or CSV files.
– Quickly define groups for prevalence calculations.
– Specify a table structure and let RDSAT automatically populate the table.
– Create and save analysis specifications, including data file names, analysis options and output options to an .xml file.
– Document the analysis procedures with the human-readable .xml file.
– Reload and run the analysis (.xml) file to reproduce an analysis.

We tried to design an interface that was more efficient for common RDS analysis tasks. We welcome feedback about the new design, especially concerns regarding usability issues or bugs.

The RDSAT 7.1 software and manual is available from the downloads section at


Respondent-driven Sampling

Respondent-driven Sampling
written by Paul Johnson,

So I was excited for the AAPOR webinar on hard-to-reach populations because I really feel like this is the hardest nut to crack in the industry. Unfortunately, I left being underwhelmed probably because of a misalignment of expectations. I came in thinking that hard-to-reach is the same as hard-to-sample so I was expecting the webinar to focus on the hard-to-sample challenges. I am grateful to Dr. Tourangeau for helping me broaden my horizon. As an employee of a sampling company, sometimes I get too focused on the hard-to-sample problem and not enough on the big picture. Still, for this post I want to focus on the hard-to-sample population and open a debate on whether or not respondent-driven sampling can actually produce good estimates that can help a company make informed decisions.

read more

REACH Webinar on Respondent-Driven Sampling April 4

Posted on April 2, 2013

The REACH Capacity Building Committee invites you to learn about: Respondent-Driven Sampling

Respondent-driven sampling (RDS), combines “snowball sampling” (getting individuals to refer those they know, these individuals in turn refer those they know and so on) with a mathematical model that weights the sample to compensate for the fact that the sample was collected in a non-random way ( RDS is used in survey research as a way to sample groups who are often hidden or marginalized for and has been used in several recent Canadian studies. It is quickly becoming a method utilized in HIV surveillance in various locations around the world.

Watch a 30 minutes video presentation by Dr. Greta Bauer, an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at The University of Western Ontario, in which she provides us with an overview of RDS, drawing on her experience with three recent survey projects.

•Follow this link to watch the 30 minute presentation prior to the live webinar:


amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is pleased to announce new funding for innovative combination interventions that address HIV/AIDS among gay men, other men who have sex with men and transgender individuals (GMT) in the Balkans (non-EU), South Caucuses and Central Asia .

Grassroots organizations led by or closely linked to MSM/LGBT communities in low- and middle-income countries are encouraged to submit relevant proposals. Funds for this round of awards are made available through the general support from amfAR.

Application Deadline: May 8, 2013, 5:00 p.m. in New York City, USA (UTC 21:00)

To view the RFP in English please click here

Для просмотра ППЗ на русском языке, пожалуйста, кликните здесь

Available Funding:

Each organization may apply for an award of up to $15,000 USD to support project-related costs for up to 12 months. Only one application may be submitted per organization. Proposals for general operating support will not be considered.

Areas of Interest:

This request for proposals (RFP) solicits proposals for innovative HIV/AIDS-related, community-led combination interventions that increase access to HIV prevention and ARV/STI treatment among gay men, other MSM and/or transgender individuals (GMT).

Who is Eligible to Apply?

Community-based organizations located in the Balkans (non EU), South Caucuses and Central Asia low-and middle-income countries with annual budgets less than $1 million (USD).

Spread the Word! Please forward this announcement to anyone you know who may be interested in this opportunity.

For more information about the GMT Initiative visit
Тема: Грантовая программа amfAR: ГМТ Инициатива – Восточная Европа и Центральная Азия

amfAR, Американский Фонд исследования вопросов СПИДа, объявляет грантовый конкурс на финансирование инновационных комплексных мер, направленных на противодействие эпидемии ВИЧ/СПИДа среди геев, других мужчин, практикующих секс с мужчинами (МСМ) и трансгендеров (ТГ) (ГМТ) на Балканах (не являющиеся членами ЕС), Южного Кавказа и Центральной Азии. Организации сообществ, или организации, оказывающие поддержку МСМ/ЛГБТ сообществам в странах с низким и средним уровнем дохода, приглашаются подавать соответствующие заявки. Финансирование этого раунда грантовой программы стало возможным благодаря общей поддержке amfAR.
Крайний срок подачи заявок: 8 мая 2013 года, до 17:00 по Нью-Йоркскому времени (до 21:00 Мирового времени/по Гринвичу)

To view the RFP in English please click here

Для просмотра ППЗ на русском языке, пожалуйста, кликните здесь

Сумма грантов:
Каждая организация может получить грант в размере до 15 000 (пятнадцать тысяч) долларов США на реализацию проектов сроком до 12 месяцев. Одна организация имеет право подать только одну заявку. Заявки на финансирование общих операционных расходов организаций рассматриваться не будут.
Приоритеты финансирования:
Данное приглашение к подаче заявок призывает подавать заявки на финансирование инновационных проектов организаций сообществ, направленных на развитие комплексных мер, повышающих доступ среди геев, других мужчин, практикующих секс с мужчинами, и трансгендеров (ГМТ), к профилактике и лечению ВИЧ и ИППП.
Кто может подавать заявки?
Организации сообществ из стран с низким и средним уровнем дохода из Балканов (не являющиеся членами ЕС), Южного Кавказа и Центральной Азии годовой бюджет которых составляет менее 1 миллиона долларов США.

Расскажи об этом! Пожалуйста, перешлите это сообщение всем, кто может быть заинтересован.

Больше информации о ГМТ Инициативе вы можете узнать, посетив сайт