Data for MJB's studies are collected by the Institute's fieldwork unit. The unit recruits, assesses, trains and supervises the fieldwork staff, which includes coordinators, interviewers (for telephone and face-to-face interviews in all languages required) and code keypunch operators.
Every year, MJB conducts approximately 50 projects that require some amount of fieldwork, using about 6 coordinators, who are responsible for approximately 150 field staff.
The fieldwork unit has several key methods of working:
- Telephone surveys: MJB has some 100 computerized telephone-interview stations, making it possible to conduct surveys of thousands of individuals for any study. The computerized systems include a sampling system, an interview system, a survey management system, and a recording system to maintain the quality of the data and allow for follow-up.
- Face-to-face interviews: MJB conducts studies and surveys in the field by means of face-to-face interviews, external data collection, and self-report questionnaires in sampled homes or other study locations.
- Online surveys: MJB uses the internet as an easy and efficient method of data collection.
The unit's routine work includes training, monitoring and supervising the coordinators responsible for fieldwork at the Institute; helping to plan and budget the fieldwork; developing processes for more efficient fieldwork, while constantly learning from previous projects; developing technologies that facilitate fieldwork and budgetary monitoring as the projects advance. The unit also engages in writing up fieldwork theory and hosting forums on the subject of fieldwork, using the vast pool of knowledge about fieldwork and the development of a range of work techniques accumulated at MJB over the years.
The unit emphasizes thorough training of the interviewers regarding the contents of the study and comprehensive knowledge of the specific questionnaires. Furthermore, the unit conducts quality and reliability checks of the interviewers in real time. One of the ways that quality is checked is by having the coordinator listen to recorded interviews conducted by the interviewers and checking the quality of completion of the questionnaires (e.g., ensuring that all the questions are asked and answered thoroughly and accurately). This system makes it possible to check reliability by ensuring that the interviews were indeed conducted.
The unit uses programs that have been developed specially for us in order to conduct computerized surveys, sampling software, and advanced conversation recording.