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Research Instruments

The NRE project has produced a number of data-gathering instruments over its 11-year history. Most of them focus on the characteristics of the 32 rural and remote field sites in the NRE Rural Observatory. They are provided here to encourage the collection and analysis of comparable information from other locations and times.

These instruments were designed to improve the rather limited types of information available for small and remote sites. Typical data relies on results from census and some administrative sources—most often with an individual-level focus and relatively large geographical areas. By comparison, the NRE profile and survey data focuses on household and community-level characteristics such as enterprises, organizations, services, events, infrastructure, and their geographical context. The household survey includes information regarding employment history, informal economic activities, social support, networks, and communication.

We invite researchers and community members to consider the information and types of questions asked as models for other studies and community-development objectives. We are willing to discuss various forms of data-sharing so that comparisons are possible among different types of sites and at different points in time. In addition, the NRE Sample Frame can be used as a means for identifying new field sites or making strategic comparisons for analysis.

We ask that recognition be provided for the use of these materials—not only for the NRE researchers and supporters that made their production possible, but for the many people in the NRE field sites who contributed their suggestions, time, and feedback to design the instruments and ensure their relevance for understanding rural life, challenges, and opportunities. A suggested reference is the following.

New Rural Economy Project (1997-2008) “NRE Research Instruments” Concordia University

We would appreciate hearing from you if you make use of these materials, wish to explore comparative analysis, or make use of the NRE data. You can contact us via

This document identifies the rationale and strategy used to identify the 32 field sites of the NRE Rural Observatory.

Reimer, Bill (2002) “A Sample Frame for Rural Canada: Design and EvaluationRegional Studies, 36.8:845-859.

This document provides instructions and forms for the original profile information regarding each of the 32 field sites in the NRE Rural Observatory. It includes information about the following topics: field logs regarding researcher-community activities; evaluation of Census Subdivision boundaries for the field site; major events and stories regarding the site history; spatial arrangements (map); service, education, health, legal, financial, government, volunteer, transportation, recreation, faith-based institutions; economic fortunes; natural resources and amenities; demographic characteristics, and major social changes.

1998 Site Profile Workbook (English)

1998 Cahier de travail (Français)

This document is the survey guide for volunteer groups, clubs, and organizations in the NRE Field sites. It includes information regarding the following topics: the organization name and contacts; the organization history, goals, activities, structure, participants, communication, challenges, networks, relationships with other organizations, and funding.

2000 Volunteer Sector Survey (English)

2000 Le rôle du secteur bénévole (Français)

This document is the survey guide for selected small businesses in the NRE Rural Observatory. It includes information regarding the following topics: the business profile; location; growth; competitiveness; market coverage; exports; networks used; information sources; work force issues; finance; administration; technology; business climate in the site; and global trade impacts.

2000 Survey of Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship (English)

2000 Le rôle des PME (Français)

This document is the survey form used to update the 1998 Site Profile. It focuses on changes that have occurred since 1998 regarding any of the topics identified in the original profile (see above).

2000 NRE Site Profile Update (English)

2000 Mise-à-jour du profile des sites NÉR (Français)

This document is used to collect information regarding a sample of critical service institutions in the field sites. It includes the following information: description of the institution and its services; networks and collaboration with other organizations; policy and budget control; citizen and business supports; community action; and community leadership.

2000 NRE Key Institutions Survey (English)

2000 Le rôle des institutions-clé (Français)

This document is the interview guide for a survey of key informants in the NRE field sites. It includes information regarding the individuals selected; their role as a community leader; youth issues; community trust; source(s) of community leaders; and community action.

2000 NRE Community Perception (English)

2000 La communauté telle que perçue par les informateurs principaux (Français)

This document is used to record information about important NRE field site events. It includes information about the nature, duration, and history of the event(s); the participants; financial or other supports; contributions of the event(s); citizen responses; community strengths; community leaders; and changes over time.

2000 NRE Survey of Community Events (English)

2000 Le rôle des événements communautaires en tant qu'institutions (Français)

This is a survey of selected cooperatives and businesses in the NRE field sites. It contains information regarding the coop or business history and structure; its location, growth, and competitiveness; participants; market coverage; networks and information sources used; work force issues; challenges; initiatives; finance; administration; technology; the business climate in the site; disputes; the informal economy; global trade impacts; leadership; and opportunities.

2000 NRE Survey of Cooperatives and Entrepreneurship (English)

2000 Le rôle des coopératives et de l'ésprit d'entreprise (Français)

This survey was conducted as face-to-face interviews with a randomly designed sample of households in 22 of the NRE field sites. It contains information regarding the following topics: the composition of the household; the perception of the community boundaries; tenure of the housing; employment information for each adult; participation in natural resource industries; changes in employment; help provided for employment; impacts of employment change; major changes; management of those changes; sources of support; internet use; access to community services; use of services (health, public); quality of services; participation in community organizations; community actions; opinions about community; leadership style in community; effectiveness of community leaders; household production and use of food; exchange of skills and services; finances; and future hopes for community.

In 2008 the GSS22 survey of Canada included a telephone-adapted replication of the section on major household changes and the supports used to deal with them (see Section 3 and 4: and

Reimer, Bill (2011) “Social Exclusion through Lack of Access to Social Support in Rural Areas” Pp 152-160 in Fréchet, Guy, Danielle Gauvreau, et Jean Poirier, Social Statistics, Poverty and Social Exclusion: perspectives Québébecoises, Canadiennes et internationals, Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal.)

2001 NRE Household Survey (English)

2001 Guide NÉR pour les entrevues dans les ménages (Français)

This survey was conducted to gather information regarding communication options and use in the NRE field sites. It includes the following information: an inventory of community communication services; interpersonal communication venues and facilities; and some information regarding the use of these venues.

2005 Communication Survey (English)

2005 Le profil des communication (Français)

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