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“Sampling: Design and Analysis”: a course for political science graduate students

- June 7, 2011

Early this afternoon I made the plan to teach a new course on sampling, maybe next spring, with the primary audience being political science Ph.D. students (although I hope to get students from statistics, sociology, and other departments). Columbia already has a sampling course in the statistics department (which I taught for several years); this new course will be centered around political science questions. Maybe the students can start by downloading data from the National Election Studies and General Social Survey and running some regressions, then we can back up and discuss what is needed to go further.

About an hour after discussing this new course with my colleagues, I (coincidentally) received the following email from Mike Alvarez:

If you were putting together a reading list on sampling for a grad course, what would you say are the essential readings? I thought I’d ask you because I suspect you might have taught something along these lines.

I pointed Mike here and here.

To which Mike replied:

I wasn’t too far off your approach to teaching this. I agree with your blog posts that the Groves et al. book is the best basic text to use on survey methodology that is currently out there. On sampling I have in the past relied on some sort of nonlinear combination of Kish and a Wiley text by Levy and Lemeshow, though that was unwieldy for students. I’ll have to look more closely at Lohr, my impression of it when I glanced at it was like yours, that it sort of underrepresented some of the newer topics.

I think Lohr’s book is great, but it might not be at quite the right level for political science students. I want something that is (a) more practical and (b) more focused on regression modeling rather than following the traditional survey sampling textbook approach of just going after the population mean. I like the Groves et al. book but it’s more of a handbook than a textbook. Maybe I’ll have to put together a set of articles. Also, I’m planning to do it all in R. Stata might make more sense but I don’t know Stata.

Any other thoughts and recommendations would be appreciated.