Much of the questionnaire remains unchanged from round to round, but deletions and additions are made to adjust to the aging of respondents, new research issues, technological change, and other factors. Members of the research community are encouraged to contribute ideas.
The questionnaire and procedures are submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval. Changes requested by OMB are made and resubmitted for approval.
The questionnaire and respondent materials are submitted to the Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) at NORC and the Ohio State University. Changes requested by the IRBs are made and resubmitted for approval.
Respondents’ information from prior rounds is extracted and compiled into updated “information sheets.” Information sheets are used to verify information from previous rounds and drive the interview.
The NLSY79 and NLSY97 each have a sample of pretest respondents who are not part of the main samples. Pretest respondents are contacted and interviewed by trained field staff. Feedback from pretests is used to make changes to the survey instrument; changes are tested and resubmitted to IRBs as necessary.
Once laptops are prepared for the field interviewers, they are tested to ensure proper function of the survey instrument and case management systems.
Whenever possible, field managers and interviewers are recruited from an experienced pool of talent involved in past rounds.
Interviewers are trained and certified using the actual survey instrument and laptops. Training covers the survey instrument, case management systems, and confidentiality rules and protocols.
The fielding plan requires decisions on the order in which respondents are contacted and how to maintain an efficient flow of cases throughout the fielding process, which can take up to one year.
Respondents who are deceased or unwilling to continue with the survey are identified and excluded.
Advance letters are sent to respondents thanking them for their past participation, informing them that the survey round is about to begin, reminding them how the data will be used, underscoring the voluntary nature of their participation, and assuring them that their confidentiality will be protected.