Preparation of survey data


FORS Guide Nº 13

How to cite

Pollien, A., Herzing, J. M. E., & Antal, E. (2020). Preparation of survey data. FORS Guide No. 13, Version 1.0. Lausanne: Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS). doi:10.24449/FG-2020-00013


This guide focuses on the data preparation phase, which starts after data collection and ends before their analysis. This first assessment of the “raw” survey data is crucial since data preparation can affect the quality of the data in a positive or negative way. After an overview of the different types of errors, the guide discusses the remedies and issues related to these editing procedures.


  • Error prevention within the data collection is always better than treating them in the data preparation.
  • One needs to be careful to not add systematic bias when correcting errors.
  • The documentation of potential errors is important, as the correction might have an influence on survey estimates.
  • One should investigate errors on the case as well as the variable level.
  • One should use various methods and data sources to identify potential errors.


Copyright: © the authors 2020. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0)