Definition: Specification error


Error that occurs at the planning and design stage of a survey because data specification is inadequate or inconsistent with the objectives of the survey. It may result from the difference between the quantity to be measured, such as the price or volume of a good, or the number of square feet in a housing unit, and the data collector’s ability to obtain this measure. Specification error can result from poorly worded questionnaires and survey instructions or may reflect difficulty of measuring abstract concepts.
United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “IT Standard 16.0.0: Survey Design and Statistical Methodology Metadata”, draft (never officially published), August 1998

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