Overview of the UWSC

The University of Wisconsin Survey Center, a unit of the College of Letters & Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been working in the field of survey research since its inception in 1987. UWSC received support from both the College and from the Graduate School for its early development and for some of its ongoing activities. It was originally established to serve both the instructional and research needs of faculty on the UW-Madison campus, but it has grown to serve a wide-range of clients both at UW and elsewhere.

The UWSC conducts research projects on a cost reimbursement basis for the University of Wisconsin community, for governmental agencies, and for not-for-profit organizations. UWSC has two organizational areas, Survey Research Services and Public Opinion Research. UWSC Survey Research Services provides a full range of capabilities for designing and conducting data collection, which are described in detail in this document. UWSC Public Opinion Research can assist in the design of public opinion studies and call on Survey Research Services for data collection.

The UWSC Survey Research Services conducts a wide variety of surveys each year. These have included virtually all forms of survey research including Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) surveys, mail surveys (using CATI data entry techniques), Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) surveys, Computer Assisted Self Interviewing (CASI) and audio-CASI, Internet web surveys using PHP, and focus group facilitation. The size of our projects varies widely. Our projects have included a small study with a sample of 165 CAPI interviews in Wisconsin; a project with 3,600 mail surveys; a longitudinal survey with over 10,000 respondents who each received a 60 minute telephone interview (that included cognitive assessments) and a follow-up mail questionnaire. (For a description of recent projects, see UWSC website)

The research services offered by the UWSC include:

  • Data collection methods:
    • Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI)
    • Mail surveys
    • In-person interviewing, with laptop computers (CAPI)
    • CASI and audio-CASI
    • Web surveys
    • Focus group facilitation
  • Surveys of organizations
  • Research design consultation
  • Spanish language instrument development and implementation
  • Sample design services
  • Respondent tracing / tracking services
  • Digital recording of telephone interviews
  • Questionnaire design, testing, and implementation including cognitive interviewing
  • Data entry
  • Coding of open-ended survey responses
  • Coding of occupation and industry
  • Preparation of cleaned data sets with:
    • Full documentation
    • Codebooks with frequency distributions
    • Conversion of data into SPSS or SAS data files
    • Analysis of results through written reports and presentations

The Center conducts telephone, face-to-face, mail, and web surveys, and focus groups for clients on a cost reimbursement basis. UWSC has the experience and capacity to conduct all forms of survey research. The Center completes thousands of interviews each year, often using long, complex, survey instruments. We have achieved consistently high response rates across all type of survey methodologies.

UWSC has state of the art interviewing and data processing equipment; we employ a staff of well trained and highly professional interviewers, we use training, supervision, and interviewing procedures designed to produce work of the highest quality; we are skilled at the use of the CASES CATI system; we have staff who are experienced in the preparation and analysis of complex data files.