Ch09 Survey Research

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Maxfield, Michael G. & Babbie, Earl R. (2011). Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology, 6th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing

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Ch09 Survey Research

  1. 1. 1Survey Research andOther Ways of AskingQuestions
  2. 2. OUTLINE Introduction Topics Appropriate to Survey Research Guidelines for Asking Questions Questionnaire Construction Self-Administered Questionnaires In-Person Interview Surveys Telephone Surveys Other Ways of Asking Questions
  3. 3. 3•Survey research is perhaps the mostfrequently used mode of observation insociology and political science, and surveysare often used in criminal justice research aswell•You have no doubt been a respondent insome sort of survey, and you may haveconducted a survey yourself
  4. 4. 4•Counting Crime: asking people aboutvictimization counters problems of datacollected by police•Self-Reports: dominant method for studyingthe etiology of crime •Frequency/type of crimes committed •Prevalence (how many people commit crimes) committed by a broader population
  5. 5. 5•Perceptions and Attitudes: To learn howpeople feel about crime and CJ policy•Targeted Victim Surveys: Used to evaluatepolicy innovations & program success•Other Evaluation Uses: e.g., Measuringcommunity attitudes, citizen responses, etc. •Chicago Community Policing Evaluation Consortium•General Purpose Crime Surveys
  6. 6. 6•How questions are asked is the single mostimportant feature of survey research•Open-Ended: Respondent is asked to providehis or her own answer•Closed-Ended: Respondent selects an answerfrom a list •Choices should be exhaustive and mutually exclusive•Questions and Statements – (Likert scale)
  7. 7. 7•Make Items Clear: Avoid ambiguousquestions; do not ask “double-barreled”questions•Short Items are Best: Respondents like toread and answer a question quickly•Avoid Negative Items: Leads tomisinterpretation•Avoid Biased Items and Terms: Do not askquestions that encourage a certain answer•Designing Self-Report Items: Use ofcomputer assisted interviewing techniques
  8. 8. 8•General questionnaire format – critical, mustbe laid out properly - uncluttered•Contingency Questions: Relevant only tosome respondents – answered only based ontheir previous response•Matrix Questions: Same set of answercategories used by multiple questions
  9. 9. 9•Ordering may affect the answers given•Estimate the effect of question order•Perhaps devise more than one version•Begin with most interesting questions•End with duller, demographic data •This is opposite for in-person interview surveys
  10. 10. 10•Can be home-delivered •Researcher delivers questionnaire to home of sample respondent, explains the study, and then comes back later•Mailed (sent and returned) survey is mostcommon •Researchers must reduce the trouble it takes to return a questionnaire
  11. 11. 11•Used to increase response rates•Warning Mailings: “Address correctionrequested” card sent out to determineincorrect addresses and to “warn” residents toexpect questionnaire in mail•Cover Letters: Detail why survey is beingconducted, why respondent was selected, whyis it important to complete questionnaire •Include institutional affiliation or sponsorship
  12. 12. 12•Monitoring returns: Pay close attention tothe response rate, assign #’s serially•Follow-up mailings: Nonrespondents can besent a letter, or a letter and anotherquestionnaire; timing•Acceptable response rates: 50%? 60%?70%? •We would rather have a lack of response bias than a high response rate?
  13. 13. 13•Via Fax, Email, Web Site/Page•Issues •Representativeness •Mixed in with, or mistaken for, spam •Requires access to Web •Sampling frame?
  14. 14. 14•Typically achieve higher response rates thanmail surveys (80-85% is considered good)•Demeanor and appearance of interviewershould be appropriate; interviewer should befamiliar with questionnaire and ask questionsprecisely•When more than one intervieweradministers, efforts must be coordinated andcontrolled•Practice interviewing
  15. 15. 15•Reported success in enhancing confidentiality•Reported higher rates of self-reporting •Computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI) – Interviewers read questions from screens and then type in answers from respondents’ •Computer-assisted self-interviewing (CASI) – Respondent keys in answers, which are scrambled so that interviewer cannot access them
  16. 16. 16•95.5% of all households have telephones(2005, US Census Bureau)•Random-Digit Dialing •Obviates unlisted number problem •Often results in business, pay phones, fax lines•Saves money and time, provides safety tointerviewers, more convenient•May be interpreted as bogus sales calls; easeof hang-ups
  17. 17. 17•A set of computerized tools that aidtelephone interviewers and supervisors byautomating various data collection tasks•Easier, faster, more accurate but moreexpensive•Formats responses into a data file as theyare keyed in•Can automate contingency questions andskip sequences
  18. 18. 18•Self-administered questionnaires are generallycheaper, better for sensitive issues than interviewsurveys•Using mail: Local and national surveys are samecost•Interviews: More appropriate when respondentliteracy may be a problem, produce fewerincompletes, achieve higher completion rates•Validity low, reliability high in survey research•Surveys are also inflexible, superficial in coverage
  19. 19. 19•Two variations: •General interview guide: Less structured, lists issues, topics, questions you wish to cover; no standardized order •Standardized open-ended interview: More structured, specific questions in specific order; useful in case studies, retrieves rich detail in responses
  20. 20. 20•12-15 people brought together to engage inguided group discussion of some topic•Members are selected to represent a targetpopulation, but cannot make statisticalestimates about population•Most useful when precise generalization tolarger group is not necessary•May be used to guide interpretation ofquestionnaires following survey administration
  21. 21. 21•Consider start-up costs•Finding, training, paying interviewers is timeconsuming and not cheap, and requires someexpertise•Mail surveys are less expensive, and can beconducted by 1-2 persons well•The method you use depends on yourresearch question

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