The Way of the SFTZ Field Team Leader: Warriors for High-Quality Data
“Really? You want to walk way out there when there are households right here? You work like you are in the army!” village leader and guide.
If you work for SFTZ, the answer to the question is: “yes.” Our enumerators always get the answers from the right people. Fieldwork in Tanzania can be extremely tough, and our staff and vehicles are often up against the elements: Rain, heat, dust, bad roads or no roads. But, we don’t cut corners.
Our field team leaders are just that: Leaders. Each leader has a college degree, speaks multiple languages and can program a data collection device, which is typically an Android tablet or PDA. Every leader knows how to check interview quality, coaches and trains enumerators, motivate a tired team, organize field logistics and facilitate a focus group. He or she has excellent communication skills and builds relationships at every level from district officers to a 10-year-old primary school student.
The Steps of Data Quality Verification:
GPS verification of villages and household location
- Leaders conduct follow-up interviews to ensure that enumerators met all ethical, legal and cultural guidelines
- Surveys are programmed in advance to reduce enumerator error.
- Enumerators collect quantitative data on electronic devices
- Data are downloaded/uploaded and checked for completion before leaving the area
- Team leaders debrief their teams every evening to identify problems and clarify procedures.
Our Principal Investigators integrate client objectives into the sampling frame. In the field, our team leaders work with clients, district officers and village leaders to gain necessary permissions and introductions before selecting households and respondents. Tanzanian culture and policies require formal introductions to traditional and government leaders before initiating village surveys.
Team leaders verify the location of each sampled household thereby creating a survey map of in each village and confirming the participation of randomly selected respondents. All team leaders are able to program, troubleshoot and download PDA’s to assure data quality before leaving the village.
Team leaders have all completed online training courses on research ethics. In the field, they verify that SFTZ enumerators explain survey objectives to villagers and meet all IRB guidelines for interviewing adults and children.
A high percentage of SFTZ team leaders have gone on to higher education including two leaders who are pursuing on PhDs. Martin Andimille currently studies Wildlife Management at the University of California, Davis and Majory Kaziya is in the Natural Resources Science and Management program at the University of Minnesota.