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History of the CCSG

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 Cross-cultural Survey Guidelines (CCSG) 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 CCSG initiative was spearheaded by Beth-Ellen Pennell, the director (retired) of international survey operations at the Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Also instrumental in the development and operationalization of the guidelines were Kirsten Alcser and Sue Ellen Hansen (retired) of Survey Research Operations, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, and the late Janet Harkness of the Survey Research and Methodology Program, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Guidelines were initiated at the 2005 meeting of the Cross-cultural Survey Design and Implementation (CSDI) workshop and have involved more than 70 individuals from more than 35 organizations worldwide. The Survey Research Center International Unit at the University of Michigan currently maintains the Guidelines.

The Guidelines cover all aspects of the survey lifecycle. This currently has resulted in 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:

CCSG Updates

The CCSG Advisory Committee advises the CSDI Executive Committee periodically on additional content to add to the guidelines. For the full list of contributors (both past and present), please see Contributors.

CCSG Maintenance

The University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center International Unit currently maintains the Guidelines and website. For questions, comments, or feedback about the CCSG content or website, please use the Contact Us form.

Photo Images

Some photo images that appear on this Website are stock photos. Others were provided by the Population and Ecology Laboratory in Nepal (Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan), Professor Jintao Xu at the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at Peking University, and Yu-chieh (Jay) Lin and the Institute of Social Science Survey at Peking University.