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Canada's General Social Survey on Time Use: Challenges and Potential
4. Best practices
4.1 Initiatives to improve collection
Several initiatives were implemented which were intended to improve the collection of the data. The major ones are as follows.
The training provided to Senior Interviewers in the Head Office (Ottawa) and the regional office interviewers included an expanded presentation of the Reference Day concepts. Detailed explanations were included in the Interviewer's Manual and the Trainer's Manual. Jeopardy-like quiz questions were used to reinforce the training.
Examples of highlights from the Cycle 12 data were included in the training presentation and the Interviewer's Manual. Electronic versions of articles which Statistics Canada had published were sent to the regional offices. Information on how the data is used by governments and researchers was also provided. On two occasions during collection, additional information on uses of the data was sent to the offices.
For the collection of GSS, the total sample is normally distributed across seven distinct waves of an approximate eight week period each from January to December. For example, for the previous cycle, collection of the first wave started on January 19th and ended on March 7, 2004. The second wave was from March 8 to April 17th. In order to distribute the work more evenly during collection, it was decided for Cycle 19 that each wave would be four weeks with four weeks overlapping. For example, the first wave started on January 12th and ended on March 8th. The second wave was from February 9th to April 5th. The intent for each wave was that the regional offices would go through as much of the sample as possible in the first four weeks and use the final four weeks to recall and finalize outstanding cases. This approach also allows the start of the collection of a new wave near the end of the previous wave and increases the number of cases available to the offices and interviewers. It improved the regional offices' flexibility in managing the survey and contributed to a more stable workforce of experienced interviewers through the collection period. This approach on the distribution of the waves was particularly useful given the unique aspect of the reference day methodology1.
1. With respect to collecting activities for a twenty four hour period for the Time Use Diary, a specific reference day is systemically assigned to each telephone number. There are seven reference days (e.g. Sunday is the first reference day, Monday is the second, etc.). The reference day is the previous day from the day the interview takes place. For example, if the interview is started on a Friday, the reference date is Thursday. Cases for which the diary is started, but not completed are only eligible to be completed for a period of 2 days (48 hours) following a reference day. Once the diary is completed, the case is available to interviewers on any day.