Chapter 8: Data Collection Methods: Survey Research

Key Takeaways


  • Survey research is a quantitative method whereby a researcher poses some set of predetermined questions to an entire group, or sample, of individuals; there are many types of surveys, including: cross-sectional, longitudinal, trend, panel, cohort, and retrospective.
  • Cross-sectional surveys are those that are administered at just one point in time, whereas, longitudinal surveys are those that enable a researcher to make observations over an extended period of time. Three of the more common types include: trend, panel and cohort surveys. Retrospective surveys are similar to longitudinal surveys in that they deal with changes over time, but, like a cross-sectional study, they are administered only once.
  • Administration of surveys can be produced in hard copy format and either mailed or administered in person. Surveys can also be sent through the internet.
  • Survey questions are usually close-ended and should be designed so that they are relevant, and within the knowledge and experience of the participant.
  • Close-ended questions provide respondents with a limited set of options for their responses and are the most common type of survey questions. However, surveys often include open-ended questions too. These types of questions do not include response options. Rather, respondents are asked to reply to the question in their own way, using their own words.
  • Effective survey questions are not double-barreled, provide mutually exclusive choice options, and avoid negative language or regionally or culturally specific language.
  • Social desirability refers to the idea that respondents will try to answer questions in a way that presents them in a favourable light.
  • A filler question is designed to identify some subset of survey respondents who are asked additional questions that are not relevant to the entire sample.




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