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18th IBUC – Call for Abstracts

The Blaise system is in transition from Blaise 4 (Blaise for Windows and browser) to Blaise 5, a true multi-mode and multi-device system. While many surveys are still in Blaise 4, there are now Blaise 5 surveys conducted around the world. Blaise 5 is intended to handle the entire range of survey challenges as described in the topics below.

The IBUC Committee wishes to bring together all kinds of survey practitioners in a unique opportunity to influence the development of the emerging Blaise 5. On one hand, the Committee would like to hear about your Institute’s Blaise 4 and 5 experiences. On the other hand, the Committee would like papers concerning production of electronic instruments, how survey methodology is impacted by systems capability, and how systems provide for survey management needs.

This will be a very interesting conference for Blaise developers, systems staff, survey methodologists, and survey operations personnel. In a very large sense the conference is about coping with the modern survey world, going far beyond Blaise as a system. It will be a rare opportunity for these diverse survey practitioners to come together and communicate their needs in one conference. Go to http://www.blaiseusers.org for access to the previous 17 IBUC meetings.

Suggested Themes

Topics may be proposed within the following themes, or you may suggest a paper that does not fit within the descriptions below. Presentations are 15 to 25 minutes long. Papers (usually 8-10 pages) are due before the conference and are available during the meeting in a conference volume.

Data collection on any device

Tell us about your experiences with fielding questionnaires on a wide variety of devices. We would like to know how you deal with question presentation on different screen sizes, delivering the instrument to the device (e.g., as an App or browser), overcoming disconnects, ensuring security, and getting data back to the statistical institute. If you use a ‘bring your own device’ paradigm for interviewing, we would like to hear about it. Papers in this theme may describe challenges and/or possible solutions.

Expectations of a modern survey-taking system

Inform the conference about your Institute expectations for its data collection systems. We would like to hear about your data collection challenges and which features you look for. Just as important, we would like to hear about how you evaluate systems beyond features and what you look for in a software developer.

Multimode survey management

Present your latest work regarding multimode survey management. We would like to know how you stage your modes, how you monitor survey progress, what reports you need, how you compare expectations to experiences, how you adjust your operations in mid-stream (adaptive design), and how you control costs. Also of interest is your expectations of controlling case delivery for CATI.


There are so many devices, so many keyboards, data entry controls unimaginable a few years ago (spinners?), gestures and swipes, and such a range of screen sizes and pixel densities; what is an institute to do? We are very interested in how you test usability of instruments across such a range of devices. Related to this, we would love to hear about your Institute’s research on question types on different devices. Do you really test each survey instrument on all devices for all surveys? How do you do it?

Accessibility and inclusiveness

There are national requirements these days (e.g., Section 508 in the United States) concerning accessible systems for disabled people. Not only do data collection systems have to provide for accessibility, but survey implementations must also abide by these rules (it is possible to program an inaccessible survey in an accessible system). The Committee would like to know how your institute deals with such requirements and whether it goes beyond requirements to make instruments usable to disabled respondents. How do you train your staff to be aware of accessibility issues and avoid having to reformulate questions or their programming? Disabilities include blindness, other vision issues, deafness, and motor issues.

Unimode versus Generalized Mode instrument design

Two design paradigms for instrument design are the so-called Unimode and Generalized Mode methods. The former seeks to maintain question formulation across modes, while the latter seeks to optimize the survey experience for each mode, changing question formulation if necessary for a mode. The Committee would just love to hear how your Institute handles instrument design that is targeted for multiple modes and devices. Of particular interest is how survey taking on hand held devices influences your choices. Equally interesting is how survey sponsors influence or require design choices and how your institute deals with these items and the clients.

(Re)training staff in an era of rapid change

You have people near retirement whose first introduction to personal computers was on MS-DOS, you have millennials who have been using graphical devices since childhood, and in between are staff who have experienced both worlds. Let us know how your Institute melds these experiences and how you keep your staff up to date with the ever-changing computing world. We would like to know how staff stay relevant as time marches on and how your institute gets the best out of all generations.

Multilingual, multicultural, multi-national, and multi-version multiple mode surveys

The world is getting smaller and even to conduct (just!) a European Union survey requires instruments in over 20 languages dealing with multiple currencies, conducted in part by interviewers based in several or all countries calling into other countries. It’s enough to make your head spin. And, oh, by the way, the questionnaire is somewhat different for each country (or each industry, or each geographic region). And, did you hear, paper questionnaires are making a comeback!? There are surveys like this now and the Committee would like to know how you deal with them or plan to. Tell the conference how you manage specification, instrument construction, translation, testing, fielding, survey management, and data handling.

Conducting scientifically valid surveys

There are so many barriers for survey practitioners these days that it is harder and more expensive to obtain representative survey measures. Barriers include finding suitable sampling frames, privacy issues on personal devices (e.g., cell phones), and the proliferation of surveys from all segments of society (to name but a few barriers). Response rates are descending. While it is possible to go door-to-door, that is such an expensive method. The Committee would like to know how your institute deals with survey barriers and how survey systems help you cope with these challenges within reasonable budgets.

Transitioning from Blaise 4 to Blaise 5

Share your thoughts, experiences, and plans to transition your survey taking system from Blaise 4 to Blaise 5. The Committee would like to hear how you would manage the instrument revisions necessary to adopt Blaise 5 and how you plan to adapt your surrounding survey systems environment to handle Blaise 5. Also of interest is how you plan to run Blaise 4 and Blaise 5 in parallel while the transition is underway.

Survey data, survey paradata, and survey metadata

It is not enough anymore to just collect survey data and report on them. These days you have to collect data about your process (paradata) and you have to represent each data item in several different ways (metadata). In fact, the volume of paradata and the multiple representations of each data item can overwhelm the volume of the survey data. The conference attendees would like to know how you deal with audit trails, response rates, different ways data are organised and represented, and how you use these extra-survey data to improve your operations and methods (adaptive design).

Blaise for Geeks

One of the hallmarks for Blaise is its openness with an API, meta data capabilities, and abilities to connect with other systems. Sometimes surveys require heavy duty systems work by your deepest thinking programmers. Please let us know about these kinds of add-ons to your survey instruments and what it takes to specify, program, integrate, and test these kinds of systems that are brought into the Blaise world.

Interviewers, remember them

The Committee knows that the role of the interviewer has changed, and while much data collection is directly with respondents, interviewing is still an important survey capability. Please inform the conference participants how interviewer recruitment and training have changed over the years. For example, how do you train your interviewers to obtain participation, to avoid immediate hang-ups, or encourage response by other methods such as using a web mode?

Blaise 4 and 5 experiences

As always, the conference is interested in hearing about diverse projects in both Blaise 4 and Blaise 5. The Blaise system has such vast capability, and it is applied to so many difficult and astounding situations. It is always interesting to hear how Institutes overcome these challenges and how the solutions can be applied directly or indirectly to other surveys in other places.

Please forward this information to others in your organization for whom the conference may be of interest.
Looking forward to receiving your abstracts. Please send abstracts to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by June 8th, 2018.

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