Author(s): Matthew Cancian, Kristin Fabbe 

Status/Format: Published

Date: 2020

Publication Type: Book Chapter

Publisher: Columbia University Press

Editor(s): Peter Krause, Ora Szekely

`You Don’t Know What You’re Getting Into’: Dealing with Dishonesty in the Field



Trust but verify! While survey data is a powerful way for us to understand political phenomena, the process of conducting a survey is messy. Scholars are vulnerable to paying for data that is allegedly collected in a certain area and in a certain way, but is in fact gathered at a convenient central location or even manufactured wholesale. Electronic tools should be used by all researchers to monitor their survey enumerators and be able to prove afterwards that the survey was collected as intended. Survey software like Qualtrics can record valuable metadata, such as the time elapsed for each survey. Sharing photos of enumerators in action over WhatsApp can be both fun and provide early warning of malfeasance. GPS location, where cell service is available, provides a way to allow scholars to conduct unannounced site inspections. Setting up these precautions in advance will save scholars from being taken for a ride when conducting surveys in the field.