Chapter 7: Survey Research
Applied Social ResearchA Tool for the Human Services
Terms in this set (17)
A survey is a data-collection technique in which information is gathered from respondents by having them respond to questions or statements.
Most widely used means of gathering data in social science research
Data can be collected from large samples of people
Respondents presented with questions
Measure what people say, not what they do
Two Basic Forms of Survey
1. Questionnaire contains written questions that people respond to directly on the questionnaire form itself, without the aid of an interviewer.
2. Interview involves an interviewer reading questions to respondents and recording their answers.
Designing Questions: 2 Types
-Fixed set of alternatives
-All possible theoretically relevant options determined in advance
-Ease of data handling
-Respondents develop own responses
-Response options are not predictable
-Complex data handling
-Respondent may give multiple answers.
Closed vs. open may generate different meaning
Are you currently - married, widowed, divorced, separated, co-habitating, or never been married and not co-habitating
What is your marital status?
Wording of Questions
-Subject question wording to empirical test to avoid bias.
-State questions in present tense.
-Simple and direct is best.
-Low reading ability of some respondents
-Avoid reference to vague terms—e.g. "trouble," "bad home life"
Structure and Design
* Provide precise directions
* Order questions:
- Early questions should not bias later ones
- Increase interest in completing instrument
* Question formats:
-Answer boxes rather than ____
-Filter question: response determines which question respondent goes to next.
-Contingency question: responding is contingent upon response to filter question.
-Matrix question: response options to several items presented in table form.
Response rate: the proportion of a sample that completes and returns the questionnaire or completes the interview.
-Nonrespondents may differ in significant ways from responders.
-Response rates in the 60% range are good, anything more than 70% is very good, and anything below 50% is highly suspect regarding representativeness.
Assessment of Questionnaires
-Faster and cheaper than interviews
-Able to reach geographically dispersed sample
-Effective with sensitive topics
-Eliminates problem of interviewer bias
-Require some literacy
-Can't control who completes it
-Responses not independent
-High response bias
-Interviewer develops own questions and probes as interview progresses
-More narrow topic
-Specific questions asked of all respondents
-Interviewer free to probe and rephrase
-Specific instructions for interviewer
-Specific questions in fixed order and transition phrases for interviewer
-Phone to request interview
-Send letter to request appointment
-Blanket area with information
-Timing of contact
-Communicate time required
Conducting an Interview
-The interview as a social relationship
-Start with simple questions
-Presence of third parties
-Probes: follow-up questions intended to elicit clearer and more complete responses
-Classifying responses into predetermined categories
-Summarizing the "high points" of what is said
-Taking verbatim notes
-Making an audio or video recording of the interview
Minorities and the Interview Relationship
-Interview is a social relationship
-Social desirability effect impacted by gender, race, culture.
-Social distance between interviewer and respondent
-Cross-race interviewing studies show large effects.
-Gender impacts on interviews
-Matching for race, ethnicity and gender is common
-Language of interview has impact.
Assessment of Interviews
-Can motivate respondents
-Able to explain items to respondent
-Add observational data
-Variation in meaning between interviewers
-Speed project completion
-Reduced response bias
-Foreign language friendly
-Restricted to voice only communication
-Sent via e-mail or completed at web site
-Compatible formatting across computers
Focus group (is an interview with a whole group of people at the same time)
Led by one or more moderators who directs the discussion by following an outline of the main topics of inquiry.
-Raw data format
Focus Group: Advantages & Disadvantages
-More flexible, less-expensive
-faster than individual interviews
-Difficult to analyze
-Qualitative rather than quantitative data