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SOCIAL SURVEY. Arpita Christian. WHY ARE SURVEYS POPULAR ? . Reasons for Collecting Primary Data by Survey Research 1. The need to know why To understand why people do or do not do something? 2 . The need to know how To understand the process consumers go through before taking action

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Arpita Christian



Reasons for Collecting Primary Data by Survey Research

1. The need to know why

To understand why people do or do not do something?

2. The need to know how

To understand the process consumers go through before taking action

3. The need to know who

To know who the person is from a demographic or lifestyle perspective

social survey


Social Survey is generally understood as the use of a questionnaire to gather facts, opinions, and attitudes. It is the most popular way to gather primary data.

Survey research can be classified as field studies with a quantitative orientation.


Survey research is a very old, and a very popular, research technique

  • 1880 survey by Karl Marx in France
    • 25000 questionnaires sent to workers
  • Late 19th century “Chocolate Sociologists”
    • Rowntree and Cadbury
    • Community surveys to study poverty
survey research
Only rarely, however, do survey researchers study whole populations; they study samples drawn from populations. From these samples they infer the characteristics of the defined population or universe.

Sample surveys attempt to determine the incidence, distribution, and interrelations among sociological and psychological variables, and in so doing, usually focus on people, the vital facts of people, and their beliefs, opinions, and attitudes.

Survey Research
survey research1
The social scientific nature of survey research is revealed by the nature of its variables, which can be classified as sociological facts, opinions, and attitudes.

Sociological facts are attributes of individuals that spring from their membership in social groups: sex, income, political and religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, education, age, living expenses, occupation, race, and so on.

Survey Research
survey research2
The second type of variable is psychological and includes opinions and attitudes on the one hand, and behavior on the other.

Survey researchers are interested not only in relations among sociological variables; they are more likely to be interested in what people think and do, and the relations between sociological and psychological variables.

Survey Research
types of surveys
Surveys can be conveniently classified by the following methods of obtaining information: personal interview, mail questionnaire, panel, and telephone. Of course, the personal interview far overshadows the others as perhaps the most powerful and useful tool of social scientific survey research.Types of Surveys
3 major characteristics
  • There are three major characteristics that most surveys possess:
      • Information is collected from a group of people in order to describe some aspect of the population
      • Information is collected by asking questions of the members of the selected group
      • Information is collected from a sample rather than from every member of the population
steps in survey research
State the objectives of the survey

Define the target population

Define the data to be collected

Define the required precision and accuracy

Define the measurement `instrument\'

Define the sample frame, sample size and sampling method

Select the sample

Collect the data

Data analysis


Steps in Survey Research
steps in survey research1
1. State the objectives of the survey.

You have to define specifically the problem you are trying to solve.

If you cannot state the objectives of the survey you are unlikely to generate useable results. You have to be able to formulate something quite detailed, perhaps organized around a clear statement of a testable hypothesis. Clarifying the aims of the survey is critical to its ultimate success.

Steps in Survey Research
steps in survey research2
2. Define the target population.

Defining the target population can be relatively simple, especially for finite populations, however, it may be more difficult to define what constitutes \'natural\' membership of the population; In that case, arbitrary decisions have to be made.

The process of defining the population is quite different when dealing with continuous (rather than discrete) phenomena. As you will see, it is still possible to define a sample size even if you don\'t know the proportion of the population that the sample represents.

Steps in Survey Research
steps in survey research3
3. Define the data to be collected.

What new information do you need to solve the problem?

Hint: prepare hypothetical tables of results. They help us to separate “need to know” than “nice to know”.

Focus groups can help to find out which questions to ask in a survey. But they can not substitute surveys.

Steps in Survey Research
steps in survey research4
4. Define the required precision and accuracy

The most subjective stage is defining the precision with which the data should be collected. Strictly speaking, the precision can only be correctly estimated if we conduct a census. The precision provided by a sample survey is an estimate the \'tightness\' of the range of estimates of the population characteristics provided by various samples.

When we estimate a population value from a sample we can only work out how accurate the sample estimate is if we actually know the correct value - which we rarely do - but we can estimate the \'likely\' accuracy. We need to design and select the sample in such a way that we obtain results that have acceptable precision and accuracy

Steps in Survey Research
steps in survey research5
5. Define the measurement `instrument‘.

The measurement instrument is the method - interview, observation, questionnaire - by which the survey data is generated.

To produce useful information the ideas that motivated the survey must be translated into good questions.

Steps in Survey Research
steps in survey research6
6. Define the sample frame, sample size and sampling method.

The sample frame is the list of people (\'objects\' for inanimate populations) that make up the target population; It is a list of the individuals who meet the \'requirements\' to be a member of that population.

The sample is selected from the sample frame by specifying the sample size (either as a finite number, or as a proportion of the population).

The sampling method is the process by which we choose the members of the sample.

Steps in Survey Research
steps in survey research7
7. Select the sample.

The sample is selected, using the sample method defined, from the sample frame by specifying the sample size.

The process of generating a sample requires several critical decisions to be made. Mistakes at this stage will compromise - and possibly invalidate - the entire survey. These decisions are concerned with the sample frame, the sample size, and the sampling method.

Steps in Survey Research
types of errors
Coverage error occurs when the list (or frame) from which a sample is drawn does not include all elements of the population that researchers wish to study.

Sampling error occurs when researchers survey only a subset or sample of all people in the population instead of conducting a census.

Measurement error occurs when a respondent’s answer to a giving question is inaccurate, imprecise, or can not be compared in any useful way to other respondent’s answers.

Non response error occurs when a significant number of people in the survey sample do not respond to the questionnaire and are different from those who do in a way that is important to the study.

Types of Errors.
steps in survey research8
8. Collect the data.

Apply the instrument to collect the information.

There are different models to collect the data.

Telephone survey

Direct administration to a group

Personal interview


Internet survey and e-mail

Steps in Survey Research
steps in survey research9
9. Data analysis

Clean the questionnaires.

Code the questionnaires.

Close-ended questions.

Open-ended questions.

Partially close-ended questions.

Missing data.

Decide which statistics are most useful to you.

Interpretation. Look for results that matter.

Steps in Survey Research
steps in survey research10
10. Results

Abstract or executive summary.

Problem statement.

Methods and procedures.

Error structure.




Steps in Survey Research
interviews and schedules
The term “schedule” will be used. It has a clear meaning: the instrument used to gather survey information through personal interview. “Questionnaire” has been used to label personal interview instruments and attitudinal or personality instruments. The latter are called “scales”.

Schedule information includes factual information, opinions and attitudes, and reasons for behavior, opinions, and attitudes.

Interviews and Schedules
interviews and schedules1
The factual information gathered in surveys includes the so-called sociological data mentioned previously: gender, marital status, education, income, political preference, religious preference, and the like. Such information is indispensable, since it is used in studying the relations among variables and in checking the adequacy of samples.Interviews and Schedules
interviews and schedules2
Other kinds of factual information include what respondents know about the subject under investigation, what respondents did in the past, are doing now, and intend to do in the future. In this special sense, past, present, and future behavior can all be classified under the “fact” of behavior, even if the behavior is only an intention.Interviews and Schedules
other types of survey research
The next important type of survey research is the panel. A sample of respondents is selected and interviewed, and then reinterviewed and studied at a later time. The panel technique enables the researcher to study changes in behaviors and attitudes.Other Types of Survey Research
other types of survey research1
Telephone surveys have little to recommend them beyond speed and low cost. This is especially true when the interviewer is unknown to the respondent. The interviewer then is limited by possible nonresponse, uncooperativeness, and by reluctance to answer more than simple, superficial questions.Other Types of Survey Research
other types of survey research2
The mail questionnaire has serious drawbacks unless it is used in conjunction with other techniques. Two of these defects are possible lack of response and the inability to verify the responses given.

Returns of less than 40% are common. Higher percentages are rare. At best, the researcher must be content with returns as low as 50% or 60%.

Other Types of Survey Research
other types of survey research3
Because mail questionnaires produce low returns, valid generalizations cannot be made. Although there are means of securing larger returns and reducing deficiencies—follow-up questionnaires, enclosing money, interviewing a random sample of nonrespondents, and analyzing nonrespondent data—these methods are costly, time-consuming, and often ineffectual.Other Types of Survey Research
other types of survey research4
When compared with mail surveys, telephone surveys have the advantage of a higher return rate. However, they are limited to who one can obtain by phone and the brevity of the interview.Other Types of Survey Research
the methodology of survey research
Survey researchers uses a flow plan or chart to outline the design and subsequent implementation of a survey. The flow plan starts with the objectives of the survey, lists each step to taken, and ends with the final report.

First, the general and specific problems that are to be solved are as carefully and as completely stated as possible.

The Methodology of Survey Research
the methodology of survey research1
The next plan in the flow plan is the sample and the sampling plan. Area sampling is the type most used in survey research. We must first define large areas to be sampled at random. This amounts to partitioning of the universe and random sampling of the cells of the partition. The partition cells may be areas delineated by grids on maps or aerial photographs of counties, school districts, or city blocks. Then further subarea samples may be drawn at random from the large areas already drawn. Finally, all individuals or families or random samples of individuals and families may be drawn.The Methodology of Survey Research
the methodology of survey research2
The next large step in a survey is the construction of the interview schedule and other measuring instruments to be used. The main task is to translate the research question into an interview instrument and into any other instruments constructed for the survey. After drafts of the interview schedule and other instruments are completed, they are pretested on a small representative sample of the universe. They are then revised and put in final form.The Methodology of Survey Research
the methodology of survey research3
The steps outlined above constitute the first large part of any survey. After the researcher has developed the survey instrument and determined which population to be measured, the researcher also needs to be decide whether the data will be collected using a cross-sectional design or longitudinal design.The Methodology of Survey Research
the methodology of survey research4
Data collection is the second large part of survey research. Interviewers are oriented, trained, and sent out with complete instructions as to whom to interview and how the interview is to be handled. In the best surveys, interviews are allowed no latitude as to whom to interview. They must interview those individuals and only those individuals designed, generally by random devices.The Methodology of Survey Research
the methodology of survey research5
The third large part of the flow plan is analytical.

Coding is the term used to describe the translation of question responses and respondent information to specific categories for purposes of analysis.

Content analysis is an objective and quantitative method for assigning types of verbal and other data to categories.

The Methodology of Survey Research
checking survey data
Some of the respondents can be interviewed again, and the results of both interviews checked against each other. It has been found that the reliability of personal factual items, like age and income, is high. The reliability of attitude response is harder to determine because a changed response can mean a changed attitude.

One way of checking the validity of a measuring instrument is to use an outside criterion.

Checking Survey Data
strengths and weaknesses of survey research


Useful in describing large populations

Make large samples possible

Surveys are flexible

Standardized questions


Seldom deal with context of social life



Weak on validity (but strong on reliability)

Strengths and Weaknesses of Survey Research