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We support clients with the appropriate research tools to answer their questions within their budgets.

NORC at the University of Chicago has been designing research studies since 1941, from major longitudinal efforts like the General Social Survey to rapid turnaround surveys on emerging social and political issues. While we still are the acknowledged leader in field interviews—a technique we pioneered—we have evolved our methodologies to include telephone and internet surveys and, most recently, the mining of alternative data sources, such as administrative records and social media.

NORC is a leader in survey design, evaluation design, and big data analytic projects, and we drive innovations in these areas. We partner with our clients to develop step-by-step plans for the research that answers their questions. Our research design capabilities include sampling design, data collection methods, and analysis approaches. We tailor our designs to our clients' specific research questions, target populations, and areas of interest, knowing which strategies are most effective for each research goal while ensuring that our research is statistically rigorous and yields trustworthy results.

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Get to Know Our Experts

Explore the community of NORC staff working in research design and methodology. 

Highlighted Projects

2020 AERA-Spencer COVID-19 Impact Survey

Examining how the pandemic influenced the experiences of early-career doctorates and doctoral students


American Educational Research Association; Spencer Foundation

2020 Election Research Project

Examining social media’s influence on voting in the U.S.



Our Areas of Expertise

Survey Sampling & Weighting Design

NORC conducts variance estimation and total survey error analysis to contrast alternative designs and improve data quality. We've used this expertise to collect data for the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics by surveying a nationally representative sample of chief prosecutors in state courts about their offices' resources, policies, and practices.

Recruitment & Data Collection Design

NORC is at the forefront of survey data collection, achieving high response rates that enhance the value of the data. Using an innovative data collection methodology that couples address-based sampling with multi-mode data collection, NORC annually interviews approximately 25,000 adults in eight languages about health risks for the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program. This program is the cornerstone of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. 

Instrument & Questionnaire Design

NORC designed and conducted large-scale monitoring and evaluation of the Competitive African Cotton Initiative in six African countries—Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the German Technical Cooperation Agency, aimed to increase the family income of 265,000 targeted small-scale cotton farmers by at least 34 percent through improved agricultural productivity. 

Evaluation Design

The USAID/Georgia Primary Education Project was a five-year pilot to provide comprehensive assistance to improve reading and math skills in 122 schools in the nation of Georgia. The program provided in-service training and ongoing support for teachers and principals and equipped teachers with assessment tools that informed them about their students' performance.

Statistical Design

As part of the Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program, NORC was awarded a contract in 2016 to provide technical support to state Medicaid agencies in designing, developing, and implementing value-based payment approaches and conducting financial simulations to support these new approaches.

Experimental Design & Analysis

In 2014, NORC completed an assessment of an AmeriCorps literacy intervention program, the Minnesota Reading Corps, which showed that volunteer AmeriCorps members could noticeably improve preschool students' emergent literacy skills over a single school year.

Qualitative Research Design

NORC has conducted several assessments of faculty work environments, including within the natural science departments of the University of Chicago and Northwestern University and a leading professional school. Each study involved in-depth qualitative interviews with current and former faculty members.

Research with Special Populations

NORC helped the Department of Veterans Affairs establish an Office of Rural Health, providing the new agency with initial staffing and analytical expertise in rural health research. Our support included targeted studies and analyses to improve access to health care services for the nation's rural veterans, develop performance metrics, and track the outcome of initiatives funded by the new office.