How our Process Works

At the Urban Institute, we work closely with our partners to ensure our survey research services meet the highest quality standards. We want to get you the answers you need.


An initial consultation is the first step for researchers and organizations interested in using our services.

Consultations may include discussions about:

  • Research aims and objectives
  • Structure of the research, including consideration of alternative study plans
  • Study populations
  • Appropriate sampling techniques, including whether respondents should be identified or anonymous
  • Appropriate survey methods, such as written or web-based questionnaires, telephone or personal interviews
  • Appropriate contact protocols and use of incentives
  • Data analysis and modeling options
  • Project timeline and estimated budget
  • Institutional Review Board documentation

To schedule a consultation, contact the survey team.

Survey design

Working closely with each partner, the Urban Institute crafts a survey instrument that considers:

  • What information is being sought
  • Who will be answering the questions
  • How the survey will be conducted
  • What types of data analysis are needed

Before fielding a survey to the full sample, the Urban Institute ensures its scientific integrity by verifying current research and relevant data sources. The Institute also facilitates bilingual and multilingual questionnaire development.

Sampling design

The Institute develops sampling strategies that are tailored to the investigators’ specific research questions. Strategies include random sampling, stratified sampling of list-based frames, cluster sampling or other complex designs.

Survey implementation

The Institute is equipped to implement several types of surveys:

  • Telephone-based surveys
  • Web-based surveys
  • Text messaging surveys
  • Mailing Surveys

Weighting and imputation

The survey data is weighted and calibrated to account for the sampling design and generate representative analytics of the target population. The institute computes and applies complex sampling and post-stratification weights wherever applicable to correct for unequal probabilities of selection and non-responses.

The institute has expertise in addressing missing values by implementing appropriate imputation techniques.

Statistical analysis

The institute provides any needed statistical analysis services, including data entry, basic exploratory analyses, tabulations or complex multivariate statistics.

Presentation of results

The Institute can assist researchers and clients in presenting survey results. This can range from a basic statistical report that shows response percentages to a more elaborate narrative report with cross-tabulations, graphs, statistical models and a discussion of the findings. The Institute can also assist in professional briefings.