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Short term ethnographic consultancies for the U.S. Census

Comparative Ethnographic Studies of Census Enumeration Methods and

Coverage in Race/Ethnic Groups

The U.S. Census Bureau is seeking up to 18 ethnographers to do short-term research in nine race/ethnic research sites during Census 2010 field data collection operations as contractors for 4-6 months. Past research has shown that race/ethnic minority subpopulations are differentially miscounted, with implications for possible imbalances in congressional representation and allocation of federal funds. Examples of miscounts include persons not included on the census form who should be counted in the household, persons counted in more than one place or in the wrong place, and missed housing units. The study aims to document how and why miscounts happen, who is affected, and what can be improved to reduce miscounting in future censuses.

This comparative qualitative study of enumeration methods and coverage in nine race/ethnic sites will be conducted in 2010 in three census operations. The objectives are to identify 1) types of coverage error; 2) sources of coverage error (e.g., questionnaire issues, interviewer error, residence rules, socio-cultural and/or language factors, complex households, etc.); and 3) characteristics of households and persons with coverage error; and to 4) assess the extent to which these are similar or different across the race/ethnic groups, and to 5) recommend how to improve coverage of race/ethnic groups.

Current Summary of Scope of Work:  Each researcher will receive training at Census Bureau headquarters in Suitland, Maryland. Each researcher will go to his/her designated race/ethnic site for 7-9 continuous days during one of three specific census data collection time periods to accompany census interviewers as they conduct 35 interviews. The researcher will tape and unobtrusively observe and listen to the census interview for cues of possible coverage errors and/or household relationships not identified with the census relationship question. If there is such a cue, the researcher will conduct an immediate targeted semi-structured debriefing with the respondent to resolve questions as to where each person should be counted, according to the census residence rules, and to clearly delineate household composition. The researcher will transcribe interviews (perhaps at a Census secure location), analyze data, write case studies, write a site report addressing the objectives and other factors identified in the research, and give a Census Bureau talk. The methodology may change somewhat before it is finalized.

Race/ethnic subpopulations: We seek 2 ethnographers to do studies in each group:

American Indian (reservation)                        Alaska Native

African American                                           Asian

Hispanic/Latino                                               Middle Eastern

Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander         White (non-Hispanic)

Generalized site

Research Sites:  Will be designated by the Census Bureau

Specific Time Periods for Field Research: Census operations are on a strict timetable and just one researcher will be in each site in each operation. To ensure each site and operation is covered, all selected researchers must commit in writing to full-time work for 7-9 continuous days in their designated sites during one of the following time periods.

March 29  – April 9:                American Indian reservation

May  5      -  May 22:              Sites other than the Indian reservation

August 30 – Sept. 30:              All sites

Compensation:  To be determined soon.

If You are Interested and Would Like to Learn More: Compile the following:

Cover letter, including information directly relevant to this study and its methodology:

  • Any experience with past censuses and/or surveys
  • Experience with unobtrusive observation and debriefings
  • Identification of the race/ethnic subpopulation with which you have done past research, and the specific US research locations (preference will be given to those with past or present race/ethnic research sites in the US)
  • Any foreign language fluency, with level of fluency in conversation
  • State your US citizenship status (you must be a US citizen)

Attachments:

  • Current resume or CV
  • Brief summary of your past research with the race/ethnic group you have chosen, including research design and methods employed. Identify the specific US location(s) where you conducted your past research
  • Please specify if you are/are not of the same race/ethnicity as the group you wish to study
  • Representative paper or report showing methodology and/or results relevant to this proposed study (less than 25 pages)
  • Dates of observation in this study: State which of the three observation time period(s) listed above when you will be available to spend 7-9 continuous days of observation at the site (you will need to commit to one of these time periods in writing in order to be selected for this study).

Send these materials: 1) if by e-mail, send to all contact people below, OR 2) if by regular mail, send to just one:  Laurel Schwede, Matt Clifton, or Rodney Terry.

By regular mail:                                              By FEDEX or UPS:

U.S. Census Bureau,                                       U.S. Census Bureau

Statistical Research Division,                         Statistical Research Division

4600 Silver Hill Road                                     4600 Silver Hill Road

Washington, D.C. 20233                                Suitland, MD  20746

Deadlines:  American Indian site: February 1, 2010. Other sites:  February 10, 2010.

Contact:

Laurel.K.Schwede@census.gov 301-763-2611

Rodney.Terry@census.gov 301-763-5475

Matthew.Clifton@census.gov 301-763-3086

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