Surveys and Questionnaires
Uses of surveys:Uses of surveys
- Descriptive data - simple overviews of trends or groups.
- Hypothesis testing (examples in lecture)
- Statistics and survey data (click image at right for example).
Core topic areas for survey research:
- Attitudes & Beliefs
- "Closed-ended" v. "Open-ended"
- Face-to-face v. questionnaire formats...
- Internet or computer administration
- "Paper and pencil"
General issues in survey design:
- Access to key populations / samples
- Social desirability response set / question wording
- Time frame of questions
- Question order
- Biased or political use of surveys
- Participant sophistication and ability to provide data
Suggested background reading: "Surveys".
Surveys, Part 1.
Surveys, Part 2.
For lecture & Discussion Group:
Read about whether people lie on sex surveys (click the "hands counting" image above).
Read about the dangers - and biases - in opinion polls on complex topics.
Click the image to the right for the article describing a survey study of smoking among gay & bisexual men (used in lecture).
Discussion group Assignment
Design and administer a survey
Take the topic you are addressing in your paper and develop a survey based on it. Briefly describe how you designed the survey, answering the questions below.
1. What general theme or question are you interested in.
- What is the "phenomenon" you will investigate?
- Why is it important? What theory underlies your question or approach? Hint: keep your overall question specific and straightforward. You will need to operationally define it using a small number of survey items.
2. What sampling approach will you use?
- Will you use a probability or a non-probability sample?
- What form of sample will you use within each of these categories, and what are the implications for your results of choosing one or another?
3. Write some questions.
- Include both open- and closed-ended items.
- Open-ended items can be a simple 'fill in the blank", or a longer answer.
- Closed-ended items can be rating scales, check boxes, or simple multiple-choice questions.
- Address, if you can, knowledge about the issue, beliefs & attitudes toward it, and behavior.
- These items are the operational definitions of the variables you are addressing in your paper. Tell us how the survey items map onto the key issues / variables in your paper.
4. Get some data.
- After you develop a short survey, administer it to a few people to get actual data to see how the survey 'works'.
- We will share and discuss our surveys in discussion group.