Nora Cate Schaeffer

Position title: Sewell Bascom Professor Emerita of Sociology


Phone: (608) 262-3868

4422 Sewell Social Sciences

Department of Sociology
More information
Curriculum vitae


Survey research provides key data resources for conducting population science. My research over the last thirty years is concerned with two broad areas: (1) standardized measurement in surveys, including the impact of respondents’ life experiences, instrument design, question characteristics, and interviewer behavior on measurement; (2) nonresponse and recruiting participants for the survey interview. My substantive research areas and experience studying survey interviewing mean that I bring extensive relevant experience to the training of both undergraduates and graduates. My research provides opportunities for students with an interest in those areas to receive mentoring and training.

CDE research theme area affiliation

Health and the Life Course

Selected Publications

Schaeffer, Nora Cate. 2020. “Far from Ordinary Questions:  Task Difficulty, Motivation, and Measurement Practice.” (2020 Presidential Address, American Association for Public Opinion Research). Public Opinion Quarterly. doi: 10.1093/poq/nfaa032. (Presented version: .)

Min, Bo Hee, Nora Cate Schaeffer, Dana Garbarski and Jennifer Dykema. 2020. “The Action Structure of Recruitment Calls and Its Analytic Implications.” Journal of Official Statistics, 36(3): 529-559.

Schaeffer, Nora Cate. 2020. Interaction before and during the survey interview:  Insights from conversation analysis.” International Journal of Social Research Methodology.

Schaeffer, Nora Cate and Jennifer Dykema. 2020. “Advances in the Science of Asking Questions.” Annual Review of Sociology. 46:37-60.

Dykema, Jennifer, Nora Cate Schaeffer, Dana Garbarski, and Michael Hout. 2020. “The Role of Question Characteristics in Designing and Evaluating Survey Questions.” Advances in Questionnaire Design, Development, Evaluation, and Testing, edited by P. Beatty, D. Collins, L. Kaye, J. Padilla, G. Willis, and A. Wilmot.  Wiley: Hoboken, NJ

Lor, Maichou, Nora Cate Schaeffer, Roger Brown, and Barbara Bowers. 2020.“Respondents’ Behavioral Displays of Problems and Helpers’ Strategies: Non-literate Hmong Older Adults and Their Family Helpers Completing Self-Administered Questionnaires,” Field Methods, 32(3):253-273.

Garbarski, Dana, Nora Cate Schaeffer and Jennifer Dykema. 2016. “Interviewing Practices, Conversational Practices, and Rapport: Responsiveness and Engagement in the Standardized Survey Interview,” in Sociological Methodology 2016, edited by Duane F. Alwin, pp. 1-38, Sage.  DOI: 10.1177/0081175016637890. PubMed PMID: 27867231. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5110268.

Schaeffer, Nora Cate, Dana Garbarski, Jeremy Freese, and Douglas W. Maynard.  2013. “An Interactional Model of the Call for Survey Participation:  Actions and Reactions in the Survey Recruitment Call. Public Opinion Quarterly 77(1): 323-351. .  PMCID:  PMC4072894

Schaeffer, Nora Cate and Stanley Presser.  2003.  “The Science of Asking Questions.” Annual Review of Sociology, 29: 65-88.