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Political Science 3N06 2012 L12 .docx

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Political Science
Todd Alway

Political Science 3N06 2012 Lecture 12 Surveys What is a Survey? A method designed to measure (variously) the characteristics, attitudes, and opinions of a sample of a population Relies on self-assessment on the part of respondents i.e what do you think about… Can be administered by mail, telephone, internet, or via an in-person interview All of which have their own strengths and weaknesses Before a survey is administered, you must first design a questionnaire Can be used to test hypothesis Designing a Questionnaire Poorly conceived survey questions are the key source of error in many surveys making sure you have good questions In many cases they are a larger source of error than sampling error “Garbage in, garbage out” A) Open-ended or closed-ended Questions? used for different purposes Closed-ended questions offer respondents a choice between pre- determined answers There are several different types of closed-ended questions (multiple choice, Likert scale, thermometer scale, etc) Close ended questions make it easy to compare answers Useful for quantitative analysis But forces respondents into a limited number of response categories that may not align with the way that respondents view themselves or the world Frames the issues according to the researcher’s biases and predispositions little effort associated with it it is likely to get a high response rate the range of people would be wide easy to aggregate over depends can read to problems there is a restriction for the survey respondent; it is based on what the survey designer there is also a framing issue; the respondent might answer differently there are framing effects; may lead to faulty data alternative is open-ended Open-ended question allow the respondent to answer as they see fit Answers to questions are not pre-chosen by the researcher certain people are likely to respond can lead a bias in data you are allowing subjects to write what every they want can lead to different answers to aggregate the data; there is a distortion of data; and can skew data Used primarily (although not exclusively) by qualitative researchers But, comparing answers be
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