SAH Blog

Crowdsourcing an FAQ

Sarah M. Dreller
| Mar 10, 2020
Welcome to The SAH Data Project’s process blog, a series of short-form reflections and interviews about the Society’s study of architectural history in higher education. By Sarah M. Dreller, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Humanities. #SAHDataProject

The SAH Data Project just launched the most public part of the study to date: a set of online surveys about architectural history at postsecondary institutions in the U.S. for department chairs, faculty, and students. Constituency-focused efforts like ours need an FAQ and with a project this ambitious the urgency is even greater. Building an FAQ that is authentic and genuinely meaningful is more challenging than it first appears, though. Here you are, specializing in being fully immersed in your project, and suddenly you have to try to imagine what someone on the outside looking in might ask. Moreover, it’s not just what they might ask but also how they might phrase their questions and, because FAQ answers should be as concise as possible, which of the many salient details you keep in your head at any given time might make the most sense to share.

If you haven’t done this before, perhaps you’d think that all I’d have to do is go back through the communication I’ve received—emails, comments on the process blog, social media, etc.—to find the questions that have been asked so far. I did that and it yielded some good ones. The complication is that people are busy so they often don’t reach out when they wonder about something. Or, in other cases, they may not even realize they don’t understand a certain aspect of the project until the confusion manifests itself in another way. So that’s where the interesting work of anticipating what the project’s community needs and wants to know really begins.


SAH staff—Anne Bird, Carolyn Garrett, Beth Eifrig, Helena Dean, and Christopher Kirbabas—helped build the project’s FAQ.


This part of the task started with SAH’s staff brainstorming on your behalf. It should not surprise anyone to learn they came up with lots of fantastic entries; after all, they field questions from members and the wider public with patience and empathy all day long.

And now I’m inviting you to look over this list and let me know what we’ve left out, what we should change, what can be dropped. You can leave a public comment here or we can have a more private conversation via email or phone. Whatever is most accessible to you is fine with us.

Crowdsourcing isn’t always the most effective or appropriate way to gather information. But we’re creating this as a resource specifically for you, our FAQ’s crowd, so we thought you’d want a chance to have a hand in it.




About the project

What is the SAH Data Project?

When did the project start and when will it end?

Why is SAH conducting this research?

What kind of data is this project gathering?

Why is this project focused only on higher education in the United States?

How will the data be used?

Can I receive email updates about the project?


About the project team

Who is collecting and analyzing data for this project?

What is a stakeholder meeting and who are the stakeholders?

How can I participate in the project?

Who do I contact for more information about the project?


About the online surveys

What are the SAH Data Project’s online surveys about?

What kinds of data are the surveys collecting?

How do I know if I’m eligible to complete a survey?

Am I eligible to complete a survey if I’m not an architectural history professor or student?

Am I eligible to complete a survey if I’m a foreign national teaching/studying in the U.S. or an American citizen teaching/studying abroad?

What do I do if I am eligible to complete more than one survey?

How anonymous is the survey?

Do I have to complete the survey in one sitting?

Can I change my answers after I submit the survey?

How do I share the surveys with my colleagues?

How can I complete a survey if my campus is closed due to COVID-19 and I don't have reliable internet at home?

I am a department chair/program administrator. How do I complete my survey if I don't have access to departmental data due to COVID-19 campus closures?


About the project’s other (non-survey) data research

Besides the online surveys, what other kinds of research methodologies are being employed?

How did the project team decide which methodologies to employ?


How the data will be analyzed & reported

What platforms will you use to analyze the data?

What form will the data reporting take?

Will you post preliminary impressions of the data along the way?

Will the raw data be shared publicly?

Can I have a copy of the final report?


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SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610