Data Collection

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Our data collection services include:

  • Acquiring, assessing, cleaning, and analyzing administrative data when possible to answer research questions without burdening survey respondents
  • Administering telephone, mail, web, in-person, and mixed-mode surveys, using integrated sample management systems and computer-assisted interviewing, with expertise in collecting data on sensitive topics and in multiple languages
  • Conducting data collection via the web using mobile devices, using GIS technology for locating and linking sample design and data collection
  • Using adaptive design to maximize data quality by tracking key estimates and production data and shifting resources as needed in real time
  • Locating hard-to-reach populations, using thorough and cost-effective techniques to improve response rates and minimize nonresponse bias
  • Conducting focus groups and other qualitative data collection, including site visits, in-depth cognitive interviewing, and classroom and in-home observations

Read about our statistics department and our Survey Operations Center.

Featured Work
  • School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study. This study provides data for policymakers seeking to improve child nutrition and prevent obesity on a broad array of topics, including the food and nutrient content of school meals, the costs of school meals, the food environments in schools, and the contribution of school meals to children's overall diets. Data collection includes collection of administrative cost data; and large-scale data collection, including menu surveys, competitive foods checklists, cafeteria environment observation, plate waste observation, 24-hour dietary recalls, measurement of student’s height and weight, student/parent surveys, and interviews with school food authorities on meal costs and other topics.
  • The Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES). Since 1997, FACES has provided data on the school-readiness of Head Start children; the experiences of the children and families served by Head Start; the quality of Head Start classrooms; and the qualifications, credentials, and opinions of Head Start staff. For the 2006 and 2009 FACES cohorts, Mathematica gathered comprehensive data through direct child assessments in multiple domains, observations of Head Start classrooms, and interviews with Head Start parents, teachers, and administrators. For 2014-2018, we are launching a new FACES design that increases the efficiency of data collection, makes greater use of web and other technologies to provide key data more rapidly and with greater frequency, and helps researchers examine more complex issues and topics in greater detail.
  • Evaluation of the Impact of the YouthBuild Program.This longitudinal study is measuring the impacts of the YouthBuild program, a youth and community development program for high school dropouts that focuses on housing, education, employment, crime prevention, and leadership development. Mathematica is designing and implementing a web survey of YouthBuild grantees and three mixed-mode surveys of youth. The data collection strategy includes a mixed-mode approach that provides an incentive for youth to respond via the web, and includes telephone and field follow-up as part of our nonresponse strategy. The study incorporates an adaptive design and innovative sample outreach and retention strategies including the use of social media and texting as age-appropriate communication channels.