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Durham Research Online
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The structure of surveys and the peril of panels.

Simpson, A. (2018) 'The structure of surveys and the peril of panels.', Studies in higher education., 43 (8). pp. 1334-1347.


University league tables give the image that there is a single dimension along which institutions can be placed. Most derive rankings from an aggregate score of multiple items, which often include opinion responses which has the potential to introduce sampling bias. This paper explores what happens when the two issues of dimensionality and sampling bias interact in league tables. It uses the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey – which uses a panel design – to explore these issues. It notes that they combine to produce a distorted image of the relative quality of the student experience in different institutions. We conclude that ignoring dimensionality and the systematically unrepresentative nature of the sample could lead policy makers to draw inappropriate conclusions.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Studies in Higher Education on 16/11/2016 available online at:
Date accepted:11 October 2016
Date deposited:12 October 2016
Date of first online publication:16 November 2016
Date first made open access:16 May 2018

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