New Survey Managers

This page acts as a guide for new survey managers. Here we list the most relevant areas of the site for those new to administration aspects of the AGS. (For experienced survey managers seeking specific documents, all documents referred to on the site are downloadable from the Key Documents page.)

‘Institutional survey manager’ is a generic term applied to the person primarily managing the day-to-day conduct of the Australian Graduate Survey (AGS) at each institution that participates in the AGS. These individuals may have different roles, titles and departments in their own institutions; the term ‘survey manager’ is used here to refer only to their role in the AGS.

Much of the content on START is targeted towards survey managers, though not all the material contained on this site is relevant for experienced survey managers.

Understanding the AGS

It’s important for survey managers to have a broad overview of the AGS, giving context to many of the more detailed matters. If you are new to the AGS, it’s recommended that you read both the AGS Overview to get a feel for the ‘big picture’ and the Annual Survey Cycle description (under AGS overview) to understand each of part of the annual cycle involved.

For interested parties, START also details the history of the AGS and provides context and trends relating to the survey.

‘Fieldwork’ - surveying your graduate population

The fieldwork component of the AGS is the process of collecting survey responses from your survey population. A brief overview of the conduct of the AGS is available here. However, for full details of the operational steps, survey managers should refer to the relevant year within the conduct section of this site. To understand the difference between the relevant AGS year and the current calendar year, see the description of the Annual Survey Cycle.

The following list summarises the main steps of AGS ‘fieldwork’:  

  • Identify your survey population within institutional records and with reference to the survey manual.
  • Plan your methods of engagement, including dates and iterations.
  • Specify your choice of CEQ scales and order your survey instruments and oAGS IDs from GCA.
  • Distribute your survey instruments to respondents.
  • Conduct ‘follow-up’ distributions while progressively removing respondents from contact lists.

Processing responses

Processing of survey responses involves converting the responses received online and via hard-copy survey forms to a standardised data file. This step can be carried out by the institution, at GCA on the institution’s behalf or a mixture of both (note that costs are associated with processing conducted by GCA).

If you’re submitting responses to GCA for any level of processing, you must collate responses and send these in batches by field of education. The main steps for processing are listed below.

If submitting forms or un-coded online responses to GCA:

  • complete and submit the data return indication form
  • collate (and in the case of paper, sort) responses
  • send consignments to GCA with a completed packing slip, or in the case of online responses send the completed packing slip in the email with the data file.

The data return indication form and packing slip are available under ‘Data return and processing’ in the appropriate year of the key documents section of this site.

If submitting a pre-processed data file:

  • ensure your file is thoroughly checked for missing cases and variables, out-of-range values, validity and accuracy of coded responses and variable order.

At GCA or your institution:

  • code key verbatim responses
  • capture hard-copy form data by scanning or data entry
  • screen data for invalid values and gross errors
  • verify the data file against data file specifications.

Further data quality checks are conducted at GCA after submission.

At institutions only:

  • check tabulated outputs from GCA for errors.

Reporting and analysis

While GCA does not perform custom analysis or reporting free of charge for institutions, national survey reports examining AGS findings are available free of charge to survey managers, as is more detailed analysis in the form of state and institution tables. These data provide a starting point for benchmarking various results from your own institution. 

Survey managers are also able to recreate some GCA-produced tables through using the statistical software package SPSS. GCA provides SPSS syntax which can be run in SPSS to reproduce certain tables from institutional AGS data files.

National data files are available for purchase and can be ordered using the National Data Files order form.