The number and scope of surveys covering many cultures, languages, nations, or regions have increased significantly over the past decade. This has led to a growing need to provide information on best practices across the multiple phases of multinational, multicultural, or multiregional (“3MC”) survey design and administration to ensure the collection of high quality comparative data. However, there is very little published information on the details of implementing surveys that is specifically designed for comparative research. For example, little has been published on what aspects of 3MC surveys need to be standardized and when local adaptation is appropriate.

The aim of the Comparative Survey Design and Implementation (CSDI) Guidelines Initiative was to develop and promote internationally recognized guidelines that highlight best practice for the conduct of comparative survey research across cultures and countries. The intended audience is researchers and survey practitioners planning or engaged in 3MC research. However, we believe that the Guidelines also could benefit researchers and survey practitioners involved in single country surveys.

The goal of the CSDI Initiative has been to develop Cross-Cultural Survey Guidelines (CCSG) as presented here, which cover all aspects of the survey lifecycle. This currently has resulted 18 chapters and 11 sub-chapters. Three additional chapters on study design and organizational structure, survey quality, and ethical considerations are relevant to all processes throughout the survey production lifecycle. Survey quality can be assessed in terms of fitness for intended use, total survey error, and survey production process quality monitoring. This may be affected by survey infrastructure, costs, interviewer and respondent burden, as well as study design specifications. This figure presents a diagram of the survey lifecycle. The 18 chapters and 11 sub-chapters of the CCSG Guidelines are:

  • Study Design and Organizational Structure
  • Study Management
  • Tenders, Bids, & Contracts
  • Sample Design
  • Questionnaire Design
  • Instrument Technical Design
  • Translation
    • Overview
    • Managing and Budgeting
    • Team
    • Scheduling
    • Shared Language Harmonization
    • Assessment
    • Tools
  • Adaptation
  • Pretesting
  • Interviewer Recruitment, Selection, and Training
  • Data Collection
  • General Consideration
    • Face-to-Face Surveys
    • Telephone Surveys
    • Self-Administered Surveys
  • Paradata and Other Auxiliary Data
  • Data Harmonization