SOC2002 Lecture 5

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  • 1. SOC2002: Sociological Analysis and Research Methods LECTURE 5: Data Collection (1) Surveys and questionnaires Lecturer: Bonnie Green [email_address]
  • 2. The research process: what we’ve covered so far… Reporting Topic/Object 1 2 3 4 5 6 Research question Research design Data collection Data analysis Interpretation Literature review, and/or field reconnaissance Choosing indicators & Project Planning Ethics Quality
  • 3. The research process: today… Reporting Topic/Object 1 2 3 4 5 6 LECTURES 5, 6, 7, 9 & 10 Research question Research design Data collection Data analysis Interpretation Literature review, and/or field reconnaissance Choosing indicators & Project Planning Ethics Quality
  • 4. Data Collection (1): Overview
    • Numerous data collection techniques
    • Today, some of the techniques used to obtain quantitative data
      • Surveys & questionnaires
    • ‘Indication’ of methods
  • 5. The problem of indication
    • Within social research you must be able to justify your choice of methods, including your data collection procedures
    • But, how do you know which is the ‘right’ method to use?
      • Which types of methods are appropriate for which types of questions?
      • How do your decisions about the type of data -> information -> knowledge you hope to generate impact upon this selection?
  • 6. The problem of indication
    • “ We can think of the problem to a medical issue of ‘indication’ of a treatment. A paracetamol is well indicated for a migraine: generally it cures a headache. However, paracetamol is not well indicated for an infection: for this problem antibiotics are better indicated.” (Bauer and Gaskell, 2000: 337)
    • “… both these interventions carry certain counter-indications: in medicine as in social research, any intervention carries both advantages and disadvantages.” (Ibid.)
  • 7. Solving the problem of indication
    • Consider
      • The type of question you are answering
      • Your objectives
      • The advantages and disadvantages of specific techniques
    • Don’t
      • Make an arbitrary choice
      • Only use the method you know best
      • Alter your research question to fit the methods you want to use (unless you are on a social research methods course)
  • 8. Indication & the quantitative/qualitative distinction Measuring attitudes, opinions and behaviours Mapping commonsense and what lies behind it Research question Surface/accessible responses Indepth understanding Objective Quantitative Qualitative Numbers (scores/nominal, ordinal, interval) Texts (written, visual, audio-visual) Data Statistical (representative) Purposive Sampling
  • 9. Surveys & questionnaires
    • What is a questionnaire?
      • “ a battery of usually closed questions…completed by respondents themselves” (Bryman, 2001: 128)
    • Key concerns
      • Structure
      • Question design
      • Delivery
      • Advantages v. disadvantages
  • 10. Surveys & questionnaires: Structure
    • Open v. closed questions
      • Closed questions: respondent is provided with a fixed and specified choice of possible answers and they must select the ones that apply
      • Open questions: respondent is given the freedom to answer in their own words
    • In general
      • Survey questionnaires use closed questions
      • Rarely all open questions
      • A combination of both may be optimal?
  • 11. Surveys & questionnaires: Structure
    • Closed questions
      • Advantages
        • Easy to process answers
        • Easy to compare answers for different respondents
        • Fixed answers may clarify questions
        • Easy to complete
        • Reduce variability between researchers
      • Disadvantages
        • Loss of spontaneity
        • Fixed choice answers can be difficult
        • Difficult to make categories exhaustive -> the importance of piloting
        • Cannot assume the same interpretation
  • 12. Surveys & questionnaires: Structure
    • Open questions
      • Advantages
        • Respondents answer in their own terms
        • Allow for unusual – or surprising – answers
        • Allows for interpretation of question by respondent
        • Exploratory
      • Disadvantages
        • Time consuming to administer
        • Time consuming to process
        • Respondents have to make more effort
        • Increased possibility for variation between researchers
  • 13. Surveys & questionnaires: Structure
    • Overall Layout
      • Length?
        • Short questionnaires look quicker to do
        • Well spaced and laid out questionnaires look more “attractive” (Dillman, 1993 In Bryman, 2001: 133)
      • Consistent and clear presentation
        • Use of font, line spacing, clear question/answer pairs
  • 14. Surveys & questionnaires: Structure
    • Layout of closed questions
        • Horizontal
        • Vertical
        • Likert scale
      • Clear instructions!
  • 15. Surveys & questionnaires: Structure
    • Layout of horizontal questions
    • Very good __ Good __ Fair __ Poor __ Very Poor __
    Please tick the appropriate response:
  • 16.
    • Layout of horizontal questions
    • Very good Good Fair Poor Very Poor
    Surveys & questionnaires: Structure Please tick the appropriate response:
  • 17. Surveys & questionnaires: Structure
    • Layout of vertical questions
    • Very good __
    • Good __
    • Fair __
    • Poor __
    • Very Poor __
    Please tick the appropriate response:
  • 18. Surveys & questionnaires: Structure
    • Layout of vertical questions
    • Very good
    • Good
    • Fair
    • Poor
    • Very Poor
    Please tick the appropriate response:
  • 19.
    • Layout of Likert scales
    • Strongly agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly disagree
    Surveys & questionnaires: Structure Please circle the appropriate response:
  • 20.
    • Layout of Likert scales
    •   
    Surveys & questionnaires: Structure Please circle the appropriate response:
  • 21. Surveys & questionnaires: Question design
    • Answer your question
      • What precisely do you want to know?
    • Make sure you cover all the bases
      • Think about how you would answer the question
      • Think about how you could answer the question
    • Piloting
      • Try the question out
    • Be specific
  • 22. Surveys & questionnaires: Question design
    • An example
      • “ How satisfied are you with your job?”
      • BUT, what do you mean by ‘satisfied’?
    • Possibilities
      • Pay
      • Working environment
      • Hours
      • Pension provision
    • Different people may focus on different things
  • 23. Surveys & questionnaires: Question design
    • How can we solve this problem?
    • Focus on one aspect of job satisfaction
    • Sets of items
      • 5 different questions all related to aspects of satisfaction with the working environment
    • Example
      • Do you have access to tea/coffee making facilities at your workplace?
      • Do you feel you have enough desk space in your working environment?
      • Do you have a dedicated printer?
      • etc.
  • 24. Surveys & questionnaires: Delivery
    • Common delivery methods:
      • Postal
      • ‘ On the spot’
      • Electronic
        • Online
        • Email
    • How do you choose a delivery method?
      • Look at the literature
      • Consider your constraints
      • Who are the people you are trying to access?
        • Do you have/can you get access to their postal addresses?
        • Are you likely to find members of your sample in particular locations?
        • Do they have access (physically and/or socially) to computers?
  • 25. Data Collection (1): Summary
    • ‘ Indication’ of methods
      • Which methods to use in which cases
      • Analogy with medical prescription
    • Techniques for collecting data (1)
      • Surveys and questionnaires
    • But who should you survey?
      • Lecture 7: sampling strategies