Kristen M. Olson

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Associate Professor Sociology (402) 472-6057 703 Oldfather Hall

Curriculum Vitae


I received my MS in Survey Methodology from the University of Maryland in 2003 and my Ph.D. in Survey Methodology from the University of Michigan in 2007.  I joined the Sociology faculty at UNL in 2007, and teach courses in the Survey Research and Methodology program. 

Current Research

 My research focuses on survey methods, with a particular focus on why nonresponse, measurement and coverage errors occur in surveys. Survey methods is one set of techniques in a larger group of quantitative methods. For nonresponse, I examine issues related to why people don’t participate in surveys, and what we can do through survey design features and statistical fixes to address nonresponse. In examining measurement errors, I am particularly interested in the interaction between interviewer and respondent, and what we can learn from paradata (keystroke files, response timing data, and call records) versus behavior codes. Related to coverage error, my recent research has examined methods for selecting a respondent within a household in self-administered surveys.

Dr. Jolene Smyth (also in the Sociology department) and I are investigating how people answer survey questions in self-administered surveys through the use of eye tracking technology. I also work collaboratively with a wide range of researchers at UNL and other institutions on issues related to new technologies.

A full list and copies of my publications are available at my Google Scholar and ResearchGate sites.

Student Opportunities

 I am seeking graduate students who are interested in developing new methods and contributing to a theory-driven understanding of a wide variety of areas of survey methodology. These graduate students may find themselves more interested in seeking an applied survey research job after graduation than a faculty job (although academic job seekers are welcome, too!).

 I am also seeking undergraduate students interested in understanding more about the interactions between interviewers and respondents for UCARE opportunities.

 Current Teaching

 I teach the introductory statistics course for undergraduates (SOCI206), as well as the introduction to regression class for graduate students (SOCI462/862). I teach a range of courses in the Survey Research and Methodology program, including Applied Sampling, Advanced Sampling, Total Survey Error, and an online course called Survey Design and Analysis.

Selected Publications

 Survey Nonresponse

Dutwin, David, John D. Loft, Jill E. Darling, Allyson L. Holbrook, Timothy P. Johnson, Ronald E. Langley, Paul J. Lavrakas, Kristen Olson, Emilia Peytcheva, Jeffery A. Stec, Timothy Triplett, and Andrew Zukerberg. 2015. "Current Knowledge and Considerations Regarding Survey Refusals: Executive Summary of the AAPOR Task Force Report on Survey Refusals."  Public Opinion Quarterly 79 (2):411-419.

Olson, Kristen. 2013. “Do nonresponse follow-ups improve or reduce data quality? A review of the existing literature.” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A.176(1): 129-145.

Olson, Kristen. 2013. Paradata in Nonresponse Adjustment. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 645: 142-170.

Kreuter, Frauke and Kristen Olson. 2013. “Paradata for Nonresponse Error Investigation.Improving Surveys with Paradata: Analytic Uses of Process Information, Frauke Kreuter (editor), John Wiley and Sons. Pp. 13-42.

Olson, Kristen and Robert M. Groves. 2012. “An Examination of Within-Person Variation in Response Propensity over the Data Collection Field Period.” Journal of Official Statistics. 28(1): 29-51.

 Olson, Kristen and Lindsey Witt. 2011. “Are we keeping the people who used to stay? Changes in correlates of panel survey attrition over time." Social Science Research. 40: 1037-1050.

Olson, Kristen, James M. Lepkowski, and David Garabrant. 2011. “An Experimental Evaluation of the Content of Persuasion Letters on Response Rates and Survey Estimates in a Nonresponse Follow-Up StudySurvey Research Methods. 5(1): 21-26.

Kreuter, Frauke and Kristen Olson. 2011. “Multiple Auxiliary Variables in Nonresponse Adjustment.” Sociological Methods and Research. 40(2): 311-332.

 Kreuter, Frauke, Olson Kristen, Wagner, James, Yan, Ting, Ezzati-Rice, Trena, Casas-Cordero, Carolina, Lemay, Michael, Peytchev, Andy, Groves, Robert M., Raghunathan, Trivellore E. “Using Proxy Measures and Other Correlates of Survey Outcomes to Adjust for Nonresponse: Examples from Multiple Surveys.” 2010. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society A, 173(2): 389-407. 

Olson, Kristen. 2006. “Survey participation, survey nonresponse bias, measurement error bias, and total bias.” Public Opinion Quarterly. 70: 737-758. 

Interviewer Effects

 Olson, Kristen and Ipek Bilgen. 2011. “The Role of Interviewer Experience on AcquiescencePublic Opinion Quarterly, 75(1): 99-114. 

West, Brady and Kristen Olson. 2010. “How much of interviewer variance is really nonresponse error variance?” Public Opinion Quarterly, 74(5): 1004-1026.

Olson, Kristen and Andy Peytchev. 2007. “Effect of Interviewer Experience on Interview Pace and Interviewer Attitudes.” Public Opinion Quarterly. 71: 273-286.

Within-household selection

Olson, Kristen, Mathew Stange, and Jolene Smyth. 2014. “Assessing Within-Household Selection Methods in Household Mail Surveys.” Public Opinion Quarterly. 78(3): 656-678.

Olson, Kristen, and Jolene Smyth. 2014. "Accuracy of within household-selection in web and mail surveys of the general population." Field Methods (26):56-69.

Mode Preference

 Smyth, Jolene, Kristen Olson, and Alian Kasabian. 2014. “The Effect of Answering in a Preferred Versus a Non-Preferred Survey Mode on Measurement.” Survey Research Methods. 8(3): 137-152.

  • Received award for Best Paper Published in Survey Research Methods during 2013-2014 by the European Survey Research Association, July 2015.

Smyth, Jolene D., Kristen Olson and Morgan M. Millar. 2014.  “Identifying Predictors of Survey Mode Preference.” Social Science Research. 48: 135-144.

 Kristen Olson, Jolene Smyth and Heather Wood. 2012. “Does giving people their preferred survey mode actually increase survey participation rates? An Experimental Examination.” Public Opinion Quarterly. 76(4): 611-635.

Recent Grant Activity

 Principal Investigator. Using Statistical and Survey Methodology Research to Improve or Redesign Surveys Related to Science and Engineering. May 2015 – April 2020. Total costs: $115,000.

 Principal Investigator (2015-2016); Co-Principal Investigator (2011-2015); Total costs: $2,967,347 Reducing Error in Computer Survey Data Collection. NSF Census Research Network. National Science Foundation, NCRN-MN proposal, SES-1132015.

Other Information

I am the Membership and Chapter Relations Chair for the American Association for Public Opinion Research, as well as the current Past-President for the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research. I am also Associate Editor of the Research Synthesis Section of Public Opinion Quarterly and Associate Editor of the Journal of Official Statistics.

Ph.D. University of Michigan

Areas of Specialization:

  • Survey Methodology
  • Nonresponse Error
  • Measurement Error
  • Interviewer Effects