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Chapter 4

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Sociology 2206A/B
Georgios Fthenos

Chapter 4 summary Survey research: structured interviewing and Questionnaires The structured interview • Interviewers read out questions in the same order to every participant to ensure everyone receives the same interview • Promote standardization in both the asking of questions and the recording of answers • Reduces error due to variations in the way questions are posed, as they are all posed the same • Ensures greater accuracy and ease in processing respondents answers Prominent errors in survey research: 1. Poorly worded questions 2. Interviewer error in asking questions 3. Misunderstanding on part of interviewee 4. Interviewer lapse in memory 5. Interviewer error in recording information 6. Mistakes in data entering 7. Biases Accuracy and ease of data processing • Most questions are closed-ended, meaning there are fixed choices; this reduces interviewer variability (in open- ended questions, they may not be able to write down all the answers) • Close-ended questions also make data entry easier • Coding frame: rules for assigning answers to categories. If flawed, observed variations may not reflect true interviewee variation • Closed ended questions reduce potential sources of error and are easier to process for quantitative data Dealing with interviewer effects • Certain characteristics, especially sex and race will affect responses given • Away to avoid this is to first conduct a pilot study, which is a preliminary mini test before the actual one. This will allow interviewers to see if the responses they are getting are very different from the majority Interviewer contexts • Usually done by one interviewer, sitting or standing in front of the respondent • In focus groups, there are generally more respondents, so more than one interviewer may be present- not usually done, but if so, usually by qualitative researchers • Can be done over the telephone, which is:  Cheaper and quicker to administer  Easier to supervise  Can reduce bias arising from the characteristics of the interviewer, as interviewee cannot see them • However, they also:  Exclude those who don’t have telephones such as lower income families and those who only own cell phones  Exclude those with hearing problems  Cannot last too long as people start to get impatient and may hang up  Interviewers cannot see respondents and vice versa and therefore cannot see facial expressions  Make it harder to establish truth; how can researcher know whom they are asking questions to? Anyone can answer the phone  No visual aids can be used • Computer assisted interviewing: questions in the interview schedule appear on a screen, the interviewer keys in the reply, and the computer shows the next question  Allows the filtering of questions  Enhances researchers control over the interview process and improves standardization in the asking and recording of questions  Makes it easier to randomize questions  Allows data to be sent to the research office electronically, allowing the researcher to do other tasks  Can establish mutual trust, if multiple messages are sent ensuring the truth behind your questions’  Make it easier for researcher to go back to interviewee for further information • Face to face interviewing is better than online for maintain rapport with respondents • Replies in online interviews are often more detailed than face to face • Online interviews make transcribing easier Conducting interviews • Know the interview schedule
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