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When bad people do good surveys

3 July 2014 | Markus Goldstein, World Bank Development Impact Blog

Development Impact Blog imageSo there I was, a graduate student doing my PhD fieldwork. In the rather hot office at the University of Ghana, I was going through questionnaire after questionnaire checking for consistency, missed questions and other dimensions of quality. All of a sudden I saw a pattern: in the time allocation questions, men in one village seemed to be doing the exact same things, for the same amount of time, on two very different days of the week. 

To make a long story short, the male enumerator in that village was fabricating that data. Further investigation revealed that he was not asking the respondents about the second day, but just copying over their answers from the first day. This was my first introduction to the production of faked data.

Now, if you would rather not think about where our data comes from and what might be wrong with it, you should stop reading this post now. But if you do, an interesting new paper by Arden Finn and Vimal Ranchhod gives us a lot to think about. Read more...

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