Trends and Developments in Multinational, Multiregional, and Multicultural (3MC) Surveys

Ms. Beth-Ellen Pennell


This presentation will discuss trends and new developments in 3MC survey research while highlighting the unique and challenging dimensions of this research through a Total Survey Error (TSE) model adapted for 3MC studies. The 3MC TSE framework has also been expanded to incorporate other aspects of the survey lifecycle (see Pennell et al., 2017). The presentation will also discuss the opportunities brought about by the diffusion of affordable technology to low resource settings. Data collection technologies that have been widely used in high income countries are increasingly being adapted and used in new contexts. This transfer of technology is facilitating new approaches to quality control, including the collection of rich paradata, as well as other innovative applications. In addition to immediate access to the survey and process data (including call records), self-administered modes such as ACASI are being used in very diverse contexts, as are the use of digital recordings, global positioning systems (GPS), areal photography, digital photography and fingerprinting, among other examples. However, these innovations do not come without challenges. These developments and challenges will be illustrated using examples from large scale surveys 3MC surveys. The presentation will also draw upon examples from newly published resources (see e.g. Johnson et al. forthcoming; CCSG 2016).


Beth-Ellen Pennell is the Director of International Survey Operations of the Survey Research Center of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Ms. Pennell has 40 years of experience in survey research operations and methods research. Pennell also serves as the Director of the Data Collection Coordinating Centre for the World Mental Health Survey Initiative, a joint project of the World Health Organization, Harvard University and the University of Michigan. In the position, Ms. Pennell coordinates the technical support and oversees the implementation of the data collection activities for these general population epidemiological studies in more than 30 countries.

Pennell is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, led the development of the Cross-cultural Survey Guidelines (see CCSG 2016) and was one of the editors of Survey Methods in Multinational, Multiregional and Multicultural Contexts (see Harkness et al. 2010), which won the 2013 American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) annual book award for outstanding contributions to survey research methodology. Ms. Pennell is also chair of the Comparative Survey Design and Implementation Workshop (see CSDI 2012) and co-editor of the monograph “Advances in Survey Methods in Multinational, Multiregional and Multicultural Contexts” (see Johnson et al. forthcoming).


CCSG (2016). Cross-Cultural Survey Guidelines. Available from

CSDI (2012). Comparative Survey Design & Implementation. Available from

Harkness, J. A., Braun, M. Edwards, B., Johnson, T. P., Lyberg, L. E., Mohler, P. Ph., Pennell, B.-E., & Smith, T. W. (2010). Survey Methods in Multicultural, Multinational, and Multiregional Contexts. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Johnson, T., Pennell, B.-E., Stoop, I., & Dorer B. (forthcoming). Advances in Survey Methods in Multinational, Multiregional and Multicultural Contexts. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Pennell, B.-E., Cibelli Hibben, K., Lyberg, L. E., Mohler, P. Ph., & Worku, F. (2017). A Total Survey Error Perspective on Surveys in Multinational, Multiregional, and Multicultural Contexts. In P. P. Biemer, E. de Leeuw, S. Eckman, B. Edwards, F. Kreuter, L. E. Lyberg, N. C. Tucker, & B. T. West (Eds.), Total Survey Error in Practice (pp. 179-202). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.