GAMAAN measures and analyzes attitudes and opinions which cannot be obtained by using conventional methods in closed societies. GAMAAN uses multiple chain-referral sampling methods through different online platforms and social media (Telegram, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Twitter) and has also collaborated with the Psiphon VPN-platform to mass spread its surveys.
Online surveys are becoming the norm as the Internet’s reach progresses worldwide. The challenges of making such innovative surveys successful include the so-called network effect (the survey is more likely to reach respondents who hold beliefs similar to those held by the organizers) and the problem of self-selection (those with a special interest in the survey topic are more likely to participate). To reduce these effects, GAMAAN’s surveys are spread through various social-media groups, channels, and pages representing radically diverse social layers of society and political perspectives. Using multiple chain-referral sampling to reach a diverse audience, surveys are shared with and by online pages and channels belonging to specific groups, such as minorities’ and pro-regime groups’ networks, as well as a mass audience consuming social, political, and entertainment contents. The targeted Instagram pages and Telegram channels range between 10 and 100 thousand followers, while those with a general audience range up to 1 or several million followers. These measures also increase the sample size, further minimizing bias.
Samples obtained from online surveys generally do not properly overlap with the target population’s characteristics. Weighting is used to obtain a representative sample. This technique balances the sample in accordance with characteristics of the target population in question. To generate representative samples, GAMAAN employs the weighting method of raking, and also, depending on the quality of the gathered data, also cell weighting with interlocked targets. As a study conducted by the PEW Research Center shows, the raking method is among the most effective and reliable for samples derived from online surveys. As suggested by PEW, a variable reflecting respondents’ political behavior is introduced in GAMAAN’s surveys and used for weighting. This decreases the sampling bias while increasing generalizability.
GAMAAN uses the official data from the 2016 National Population and Housing Census to extract the target population characteristics. The results of GAMAAN’s surveys are verified using different reliability checks. One of the methods for examining the reliability and generalizability of a weighted sample is to compare the results from the weighted sample against external evidence. GAMAAN checks the congruence of its final sample with external factors such as the employment rate, household income levels, language speaking at home, and the results of politically non-sensitive questions with the findings of reputable pollsters such as the World Values Survey. To estimate the reliability of the results drawn from the weighted sample, computations are run once again using the matching method. The results of both the raking and matching methods are then compared to test the findings’ reliability.
All of GAMAAN’s survey reports present and discuss the sample demography and target population, sample balancing and weighting methods, and the extent to which reliability checks were successful.