In order to assist respondents, Istat makes all information about surveys available online: questionnaires, survey forms, memoranda and other documents on how to fill in and return the questionnaires.
Depending on the phenomenon to be surveyed, the Institute may send the questionnaire by post, conduct telephone or direct interviews, make use of the administrative archives, when these are available, in order to reduce the statistical burden placed on respondents
In surveys of households, who are usually contacted by telephone or directly, the Institute increasingly makes use of assisted computer-based techniques, which makes it possible to reduce human error during the data collection phase and ensure ongoing quality control. The enumerator’s visit or call is always preceded by a letter from Istat’s president or the mayor of the municipality.
For direct surveys which use the traditional technique, i.e. forms filled in on paper, Istat works with the local municipal statistics departments, which in turn select and train their own enumerators to send to households or enterprises; for direct surveys which use computer-assisted data collection, i.e. an electronic questionnaire on a laptop computer, Istat uses enumerators.
With regard to telephone surveys, Istat uses the services of external call centres whose staff is specially trained. In order to optimize the quality of the data collected, in many cases it provides them with all the software necessary to conduct the interviews.
For surveys of enterprises and institutions data capture techniques via Internet have been fully incorporated into production of official statistics, increasing the speed and quality of information produced. A web environment dedicated to electronic data acquisition has been available to respondents for a number of years now, and is accessible at the address https://indata.istat.it, which hosts the electronic questionnaires of several surveys. Responding electronically is generally optional: respondents can always fill in the paper form if they prefer.
The population statistics portal, accessible at http://demografiche.istat.it, is an integrated system of services and products to support the activities of stakeholders in population surveys based on administrative data. In addition to a range of information, documents and tools for the proper conduct of surveys and improving the quality of results, the portal provides a link to the MODEM and Istatel systems for the electronic collection of population data.
Finally, information on the methodology and quality of all surveys carried out by Istat can be found at the following address: http://siqual.istat.it