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Reliable statistical methods for survey with sensitive questions


   College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences

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  Dr Man-Lai Tang  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for our EPSRC funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) PhD studentship for the project “Reliable statistical methods for survey with sensitive questions” starting 1 April 2022. Successful applicants will receive an annual stipend (bursary) of £17,609, including inner London weighting, plus payment of their full-time tuition fees for a period of 36-months (3 years). 

Applicants must be classified as home (UK) tuition fee paying student to be eligible for this studentship. 

The Project

 This exciting research project is to developed reliable statistical methods for surveys with sensitive questions. Data collection and analyses have long been challenging tasks in surveys involving sensitive questions or highly personal information. The validity of prevalence estimates of sensitive attributes obtained via direct questioning techniques are usually threatened by response bias as some respondents tend to align their answers with social norms.  Existing studies report that only 19% of respondents who have committed welfare and unemployment benefit fraud admitted it when directly asked this sensitive question – this indicates an extraordinarily high non-compliance rate of circa 80%.  This non-compliance behaviour produces distorted prevalence estimates of sensitive attributes, e.g.: under-reporting of socially undesirable and over-reporting of socially desirable attitudes and behaviours. In this project, the applicant is going to develop reliable non-randomized response models that allow non-compliance from respondents.  Sample size determination is also of research interest.

Please contact Dr Man-Lai Tang at [Email Address Removed] to arrange an informal discussion about the project. 

Skills and Experience

 Applicants should have a background in mathematics, statistics, or survey sampling. Applicants should be motivated to work on fundamental problems in the proposed areas, and have a strong sense of curiosity. Questionnaire design and data collection are necessary. You should also be able to work independently as well as in a team, collaborate with others and communicate effectively.

Academic Entry Criteria

You will have or expect to achieve a 1st class or 2:1 honours degree in Mathematics, Statistics, Biostatistics or a similar discipline. A postgraduate masters degree is not required but may be an advantage.

How to Apply

Please submit the documents below as a single PDF file by email to [Email Address Removed] by 14:00 on Monday 28 February 2022.  

  • Your up-to-date CV;
  • Your personal statement (300 to 500 words) summarising your background, skills and experience. Please state the name of the project supervisor at the top of your personal statement;
  • Your Undergraduate/Postgraduate Masters degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  • Your English Language qualification of IELTS 6.5 overall (minimum 6.0 in all sections) or equivalent, if applicable;
  • Contact details for TWO referees, one of whom can be a member of Brunel University academic staff.

Interviews will take place in early/mid-March 2022


Funding Notes

Successful applicants will receive an annual stipend (bursary) of £17,609, including inner London weighting, plus payment of their full-time tuition fees for a period of 36-months (3 years).
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