Panel Survey Dilemma: How to Implement the Results of Pre-Testing in Consecutive Waves?

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The paper discusses the role of pre-testing in consecutive waves of a panel survey, investigating how attitudes and opinions change over long periods of time. On one hand, accounting for this change requires that the phrasing of questions should remain unaltered. On the other, pre-testing may reveal that respondents experience difficulty in understanding some items, for instance due to the possible shifts in meaning that occurred over time. The paper discusses the issue of implementing the results of a pretest, presenting experiences gained during pre-testing of the Polish Panel Survey POLPAN 1988–2018, conducted in March 2018. Questionnaire items selected for analysis deal with the determinants of life success, the intensity of social-group conflicts, and the self-evaluation of social position. The main conclusion is that the questionnaire items should undergo minor modifications, but only if necessary, while the feedback from pre-testing should be used in fieldwork instructions for interviewers and should also be taken into account in the interpretation of the results of the main survey.



pre-test, panel study, determinants of life success, social-group conflicts, self-assessment of social position


Ask: Research and Methods. Volume 27, Issue 1 (2018), pp. 3-22