The Survey and Data Management Core (SDMC) provides efficient, high-quality survey data collection and management services and consultation to support the research needs of investigators and staff throughout the Harvard Medical research community. The Core, housed within the Center for Population Sciences at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is dedicated to rigorous evidence-based quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods data collection and management.
Internet-based data collection, mail, telephone and in-person data collection, medical record review and abstraction, data entry, data analysis, training and oversight of project field staff.
Development of systems for management of complex cross-sectional and longitudinal data.
Includes: research design and protocol development, sample selection, case identification, rapid case identification, and identifying incentives.
Mixed methods research utilizes the collection, analysis and integration of quantitative and qualitative data to provide a more comprehensive consideration of a research question than the utilization of either approach on its own. The Core’s Survey Methodologist and Qualitative Research Manager work collaboratively to provide investigators with an appropriate mixed methods design frame and operationalize the protocol utilizing Core staff and resources.
Includes: focus groups, cognitive and key informant interviews, cognitive testing of new instruments, development of moderator/interviewer guides, and qualitative coding and analysis.
Although the use of an existing validated instrument is generally preferable to the design of a novel instrument, it is not always possible for investigators to identify instruments that meet their needs. Yet, constructing a quantitative or qualitative survey instrument in such a way that it yields valid and reliable data is a challenging task. Core staff have years of experience in developing instruments and guides, and are aware of the latest research in instrument design. Drawing on years of experience in item development, staff assist investigators with the development of new survey items and scales as well as the adaptation of existing items to novel contexts and populations.
Through the use of cognitive interviewing techniques to ensure accuracy, clarity, and user-friendliness of questions and of response options, the Core assists investigators in pretesting and refining novel instruments as well as existing instruments that investigators propose to use in novel contexts and populations.
Numerous validated instruments are available for measuring constructs relevant to population science and clinical research. Use of a previously validated instrument, when available, is almost always preferable to designing a novel instrument for one’s data collection purposes. It is difficult, however, for investigators to maintain familiarity with the breadth of instruments available, to select the optimal instruments for their purposes, and to access information on validity and psychometric properties. The SDMC maintains a library of instruments and supporting data, and can advise investigators on the choice of instruments for their study purposes.
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