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What is Sketch?
Welcome to the GRASP “Diaspora Sketch” survey – a descriptive statistical assessment of the Romanian community in the United States – an anonymous survey aiming to provide a profile of the Romanian professional, educational and economic characteristics abroad. This project is supported by ‘Alianța’ (http://www.alianta.org/).
If extended, Sketch would represent the first of four stages in a broader research project that includes:
• STAGE I: Statistical evaluation of the Romanian community on the East Coast (Sketch)
• STAGE II: Based on the survey results, the creation of a focus group – made up of representatives of different demographic categories in proportional numbers, as revealed by the survey.
• STAGE III: Expansion of Stage I to all the other GRASP Local Centers (LCs).
• STAGE IV: Expansion of Stage II to all the other GRASP LCs
• SUMMARY STAGE: Centralization of results and formalization of focus groups that could be used as research-valid assessment tools for Diaspora’s values and opinions.
Original contribution to knowledge that can inform public policy – In the last two decades, Romania faced heavy emigration flows and the research on Diasporas was slow in catching up with this social reality. Many associations, organizations, political parties, private individuals, etc. claim to either speak on behalf of or represent “the Romanian Diaspora”. In reality, however, no comprehensive mechanism exists for mapping and explaining the interests and opinions of Romanian nationals abroad and few bodies can genuinely claim to speak on behalf of at least a section of Romania’s expat community. There is very little research on the social, economic and professional profiles of the Romanian Diaspora.
Large number of beneficiaries – Given the fact that no assessment instrument exists for evaluating the characteristics and views of the Romanian community abroad, the expected conclusions of this study would yield highly valuable descriptive data for both public bodies and private (associative) users. The results of this study will be distributed through the GRASP websites, GRASP events as well as through academic and policy papers.
Why is this of interest to GRASP New York – Two of the major goals of GRASP are the encouragement of knowledge transfer and of active citizenship. As a result, the Sketch project, succeeded by its envisioned stages, would create a framework for the transmission of opinions, knowledge, values and perspectives concerning Romania from the outside inwards, by individuals who are not only potentially different in their mentalities (due to residing abroad), but also willing to make their opinions (on various different topics) heard. The project could generate focus groups that would hold a representative value for the demographic groups identified through descriptive statistics. These groups can constitute a cost-effective and easy way of collecting information that could offer insights in the broader opinion trends of the Romanian East Coast community.
The competitive advantage of GRASP in conducting such a study – Given the skills base available among the US-based members and sympathizers of GRASP, it is easy to see how GRASP New York Academic could create the Sketch project and GRASP New York Networking could implement it technically. The members and affiliates of GRASP New York Academic can design and implement with ease a professionally-built descriptive statistics project by resorting to GRASP’s contacts and networking platforms.
How will the study be implemented?
The data collection method for Sketch, STAGE I is an anonymous survey sent by email to Romanian citizens, residing officially in the US. The overwhelming majority of Romanians living abroad have access to the internet through their PCs or phones. The survey would allow for the mapping of the main characteristics of the Romanian community.
Survey design – Sketch involves the creation of a survey requesting anonymously information on the following aspects:
• Age of the respondent;
• Time of residing in the US;
• Reason(s) why the respondent choose the US;
• Is the respondent a temporary or permanent resident of the US;
• Level of education of the respondent;
• Professional status of the respondent;
• Income of the respondent;
• Is the respondent interested in Romania?
• If so, how? (following news, getting involved in associations, etc.);
• What Romanian institutions or organizations is the respondent in regular contact with (at least two times/ year the respondent attends their events);
• How does the respondent perceive the political, social and economic changes that took place in Romania in the last decade;
• What works and what does not work in Romania (in the view of the respondent) – data collected through an open question;
• Would the respondent be interested to volunteer his/her professional experience for the development of Romania? (several choices will be presented to the respondent)
• Would the respondent be interested in taking part in a focus group (STAGE II).
Particular attention should be granted to protecting the anonymity of the respondent. The Sketch project will not request any information which would identify participants individually, with the exception of an email insertion box at the end, which will only serve to make sure that each respondent fills out the survey only once. It will not request names or contact details. If the respondent would like to keep in contact with GRASP for the purpose of subsequent stages of the project or as part of other initiatives, information concerning the GRASP New York email address should be inserted in the survey, as well as the request that the respondent write to us directly, and an optional feedback insertion box should be placed at the end.
Participants – The survey should exclude the following categories through the use of verification questions at the beginning of the survey:
• Government of Romania employees/affiliates – not representatives for the demographics of the local Romanian community;
• Individuals of a Romanian descent later than the first generation (Romanian parents) – representing a different community, and individuals of Romanian descent who do not reside in the US on a legal long term basis.
• Underage individuals.
The survey will also include Romanian citizens that have double citizenship.
Administering the survey – Dissemination of the survey will be carried out electronically. In the electronic form, the survey should either be made available on a platform already used by GRASP (i.e. Google Forms) or a freely available one (i.e. Survey Monkey), depending on the format of data export allowed by the platform. Data will be collected in a format compatible with statistical analysis software (SPSS or R). Coding of the responses to the open questions included in the survey will take place by using NVivo, qualitative data analysis software.
Disseminating the survey – The following GRASP partners would be important assets in the process of disseminating the survey:
• The Romanian Embassy in Washington
• The Romanian Consulate General in NYC – already shown enthusiasm about offering support
• The Romanian Cultural Institute in NYC
• The Romanian Honorary Consulate in Boston
• The Romanian clubs at Harvard, MIT, Columbia, etc.
• The Romanian-American Business Council
• The Association of Romanians in New England
• The “Mara” and “Dorul” Associations
• Romanian parishes and restaurants
• Romanian local community leaders
• The League of Romanian Students Abroad
Survey dissemination steps – The Romanian Embassy in Washington and the Romanian Consulate General in NYC will be contacted and asked to provide a (exclusively up-to-date) list of the Romanian organizations based in the East of the US they are in contact with or aware of at present (NGOs, churches, student organizations, community organizations, etc.) and the contacts of their leaders/representatives. In each of these organizations, one of the organization’s representatives will be asked to send through the emailing list of the organization the survey to its members. An invitation to fill in the survey will be included in the message. We will also ask the leaders to send the survey to the leaders of the Romanian organizations they are in contact with, with a similar request, of distributing the survey to their members through their emailing list. In order to identify and interview all relevant subjects the study uses the snowball technique: ‘the technique of building an exponentially increasing network of research subjects from an original subject zero’ (Gusterson 2008, p. 98 ).
The potential respondents will:
o be assured in the first page of the survey of the anonymous character of their participation
o be presented with their rights as participants in social research
o be asked to fill in the survey only and only once
o reminders will be sent after 7 and 11 days
o the research team will agree with the leaders of all organizations on a day (Tuesday) when the survey will be sent for the first time and will come up with a calendar for the subsequent reminders.
Notes on the survey completion – The time window for completions should be around 30 days from a decided start date – keeping in mind the necessity for flexibility depending on performance. Each respondent should be given two weeks to fill in the survey after the invitation to participate in the study was sent. Reminders should be sent 7 days after the moment of the invitation and 11 days after the moment of the invitation. The link to the survey will be circulated with a note asking the potential respondent to fill the survey only once even if he/she received the link through two or more channels.
The survey completion will remain open beyond the 30 days completion date, for potential quarterly assessments of the demographic segments which have participated in it.
Completion rate – Given that such a study has not been previously implemented, little expertise exists with regards to the number of Romanian respondents likely to take part. We estimate however that the completion rate would be around 25% of the targeted population.
Limitations of the study – Like any social science research, this study has a few limitations which are generated by both the nature of the entity studied, as well as by the need to keep the time and financial material resources allocated to this project at a reasonable level. These limitations include:
• it will reach only respondents that are in direct contact with organizations (NGOs, churches, student organizations, community organizations, etc.) of which key Romanian entities are aware
• it is limited to those that are on the emailing lists of these organizations (this is acceptable given the exploratory nature of this study)
• it is limited to those that fill in the survey
Despite the limitations, this is a cost and time effective way of conducting such an exploratory study that will offer insight into the main opinion trends.
Presentation of results – The implementation of the Sketch project should be operated in line with both GRASP’s external image promotion necessities – to be seen as a consistent, serious and highly relevant skills transfer framework which attracts local Romanian young elites – as well as its internal procedures – where each GRASP New York event/initiative would also contribute to the success of another GRASP New York event/initiative. The club operates by building on its own activity in maximizing outcome. To achieve this, Sketch results will be made available publicly within a different GRASP New York event, most likely taking place in early summer 2016.
Project timeline – the proposed project timeline
• Designing the research questions and testing the pilot (May 2016);
• Administering the survey (June 2016);
• Running the first set of descriptive statistics (June 2016), after which completion still remains available, but subsequent promotional activities should precede the running of additional sets of descriptive statistics;
• Presenting the results of STAGE I at a GRASP event (July 2016).
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