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Data Collection Methods

The CoronaNet dataset is compiled using a Qualtrics survey instrument, while our data is collected by more than 450 research assistants from around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions:

There are several advantages of using a survey design for large data collection. Survey designs allow us to:

  1. Streamline the data collection effort, as every entry will be subjected to the same relevant and standardised questions that our research assistants will answer.
  2. Systematise the collection of very fine-grained data while avoiding coding errors that are common to tools like shared spreadsheets.
  3. Avoid the overwriting of existing data, which is much more possible in shared spreadsheets.
  4. Reduce measurement error by coding in different conditional logics for when certain survey questions are posed, which obviates the occurrence of logical fallacies in our data.
  5. Easily link policy events together over time should there be updates to existing ones, as each entry is given a unique record ID, which research assistants can look up.
  6. Use a forced response option and reduce the amount of missing data.

As the value of using a survey design depends on the comprehensiveness of the survey questions, it is thus important for us to construct a survey that is able to capture as much relevant information as possible. To do this, one of our principal investigators collected in-depth time-series data on policy actions taken from one country as well as cross-national data on travel bans implemented by most countries. There were a total of 245 observed events.

The selected country for in-depth time-series observation was Taiwan, as Taiwan was one of the few countries who had relative success in containing the Covid-19 earlier in the year (as of March 28, 2020). As such, it seemed likely that other countries may choose to emulate some of the policy measures that Taiwan had implemented, which helps increase the comprehensiveness of the questions we ask in our survey. During this initial design, we were also able to observe variations of implementations and targets of issued policies, such as different methods of travel (e.g. flights, cruises, land transport), restrictions across borders and within borders, and to whom certain policies may apply (e.g. citizens, travelers, residents).

After the construction of the survey, we ensured that the survey provides research assistants with descriptions of each policy category to avoid errors in coding. Throughout the course of our data collection, we also conduct extensive investigation on other measures that other countries are taking with the help of our many research assistants, which helped us to continuously improve the comprehensiveness of our survey.

We recruit research assistants from around the world. We do not restrict the education levels and/or field for applicants, although most of our research assistants have background in research and study (or have expertise) in the fields of political and social sciences, health, and data science. Upon application, applicants must outline the reason for joining the project. Applications are screened by the CoronaNet’s Project Managers and Senior Research Assistant Managers.

Once an applicant is accepted, they will be obliged to watch a training video that explains how to use the Qualtrics survey instrument and pass a survey test. Research assistants must be able to achieve at least 70% in the test. Research assistants are also provided with written guidelines on data collection and a comprehensive codebook. The guideline provides definitions of what counts as a new or updated policy and provides a checklist for research assistants to follow in order to identify and document different policies. Research assistants are also instructed to check the data sources, document relevant information into the survey and to save and upload a PDF of the source they found to document each policy into the Qualtrics survey. The codebook provides descriptions and examples of the different possible response options in the survey.

Before starting their data collection, every research assistant must fill out the CoronaNet Research Assistant Form, in which:

  1. They identify themselves.
  2. They certify that they have viewed the training video.
  3. They certify that they have joined the CoronaNet Slack Workspace.
  4. They certify that they understand that their responsibilities entail gathering historical data on Covid-19 government policy actions and providing daily updates for new government policy actions.
  5. They certify that they understand they can access the data collection guidelines and codebook or post their questions on the CoronaNet Slack Channel should they have any.
  6. They certify that they understand they are expected to upload the sources of the information they enter into the Qualtrics survey in PDF.

Once research assistants submit their forms, they will be sent a personalised link to access our survey instrument. With personalised links, we are able to keep track of each research assistants’ country of assignment.

Internal project communications are held on the CoronaNet Slack Workspace. In the workspace, research assistants can post questions or suggestions, which principal investigators and other research assistants will respond to. We also use our workspace to discuss research ideas as well as plan future activities.