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2005 November Report of the Auditor General of Canada

November 2005 Report—Chapter 2

Exhibit 2.1—Reporting of key survey information in departmental performance reports

Key information

Why it is important

Percentage of 209 references reported

Name of survey

The name of the survey identifies it and distinguishes it from similar or previous surveys.


Response rate

The response rate is an important indicator of data quality. Low response rates raise the risk of biased results.


Sample size

The sample size influences the possible range of sampling error due to chance. Small sample sizes are more likely to produce estimate errors due to chance.


Confidence interval (also known as "precision")

The confidence interval relates directly to the sample size. Although it shows how precise the observations are, it does not indicate the amount or direction of bias due to sources of non-sampling error, such as low response rate.


Description of target population

The target population is the group of people that the sample is intended to describe.


Description of the sampling frame

The sampling frame is any list, material, or device that identifies and allows access to elements of the survey population. Understanding the sampling frame provides important information about potential gaps in the coverage of a survey.


Reference to a final report

A reference to a complete final report containing a detailed description of methodology is important so that users can fully understand how the survey was done and can replicate the survey to see if they get similar results.


When the survey was conducted

The timing of a survey can be important when interpreting results. Data can be out of date or may have been collected immediately following a significant event that temporarily affected the findings.