Telephone Surveys

Many sponsoring agencies choose to conduct surveys via telephone due to the ease of contacting many populations as well as the opportunity for telephone interviewers to probe for clear answers in real time.  The Center for Survey Research houses a 20-seat call center located in Church Hall on the Penn State Harrisburg campus that operates weekdays, evenings, and weekends.  Call schedules are established according to specific project needs, with administrative surveys occurring during regular business hours and general population surveys scheduled during evenings and weekends.  Many administrative surveys utilize a list of respondents, but often, sponsors utilize a sampling plan that includes landlines with a cell phone supplement. 


The Center for Survey Research employs a team of skilled telephone interviewers and supervisors ready to collect data for each phone survey.  Telephone interviewers are trained in proper data collection techniques in addition to the technical methodology of interviewing.  Before the start of each project, interviewers are familiarized with a project’s survey instrument and specific study protocol.  All interviewers complete an online human subjects training administered through Penn State University’s Office for Research Protections.  


Telephone surveys are administered using VOXCO Computer-assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) software.  The CATI interface allows for: 

  • Complex questioning patterns
  • Automatic skipping
  • Multiple question types: closed, open, grids, etc.
  • Text substitution (piping)
  • Rotation of questions and/or response options
  • Quality control monitoring (visual and audio)
  • Productivity reporting
  • Recording interviews

To view a sample telephone survey methodology report, visit the Penn State Poll page. 

For more information or to discuss your needs, contact Stephanie L. Wehnau at 717-948-6429 or