On 31 January I closed my study abroad survey for Tajik nationals and I was absolutely delighted to see that in total, I had received over 100 responses! This figure is more than double the number I had hoped for and I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU / РАХМАТ / СПАСИБО to everyone who participated.
In its Global Education Digest 2011, UNESCO reports that approximately 5,500 Tajiks study abroad each year, with the majority going to Russia (approx 2,800) and Kyrgyzstan (approx 1,500). Around 300 students a year are estimated to go to the USA. With over 30 responses to my survey coming from people studying in the US that means I’ve managed to capture the views of around 10% of the annual total number going to that country. That’s really good going for a small-scale study.
I attribute the better-than-expected response rate to two connected reasons: firstly, the snowball sampling method I used and secondly, the power of social networking. When I created the survey, I also drew up a list of people I knew who would be eligible to participate, and – here comes the snowball part – asked them to spread the message to other people they knew. In this way I was able to reach an audience that was much wider than my own contacts. Secondly, thanks to Facebook, LinkedIn and a Central Eurasia mailing list maintained by Harvard University, I was able to reach people out of my network and my contacts’ networks.
The Facebook group Tajik PhDs abroad was a particularly dynamic group and I feel privileged to have been added to the group with its active discussions on everything from representation of the ‘other’ in Russian film to data on cotton production in Tajikistan. The Harvard mailing list also put me in touch with people around the world. The process of doing the survey may well prove to be as fascinating as the results that I will shortly start analysing!
An explanation of the study that the survey is contributing to is in an earlier blog post.