Discuss Survey Research

Survey Research

Once the researcher understands the connection between the investigative questions and the potential measurement questions, a strategy for the survey is the next logical step. This precedes getting down to the particulars of instrument design. Prominent among the strategic concerns are:

  1. What communication mode will be used?

  2. How much structure should be placed on the question-and-answer processes?

  3. Should the questioning approach be disguised and, if so, to what degree?

Communication Mode

Surveys may be conducted by personal interview, telephone, mail, computer, or some combination of these. The decision on which method to use will affect the design of the instrument. In personal interviewing, it is possible to use graphics and other questioning tools more easily than by mail or phone.

Process Structure

Questionnaires and interview schedules can vary from those that have a great deal of structure to those that are essentially unstructured. An interview schedule is the questionnaire used in an interview. It contains three types of questions: identification, sociological-demographic, and measurement. The latter may be structured questions that present the respondents with a fixed set of choices, often called closed questions. Unstructured questions do not have a limited set of responses but do provide a frame of reference for respondents’ answers. They are sometimes referred to as open-ended questions.

At the unstructured extreme, are in-depth interviews where the interviewer’s task is to encourage the respondent to talk about a set of topics. The in-depth interview encourages respondents to share as much information as possible in an unconstrained environment. The interviewer uses a minimum of prompts and guiding questions.