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RESEARCH METHODOLOGY. (Business Research Methods). Week 7. Self-Administered Questionnaires. Self-Administered Questionnaires. Printed Questionnaires. Electronic Questionnaires. Mail. E-Mail. In-Person Drop-Off. Internet Website. Inserts. Interactive Kiosk. Fax.

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research methodology


(Business Research Methods)

Week 7

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

self administered questionnaires
Self-Administered Questionnaires



Printed Questionnaires

Electronic Questionnaires



In-Person Drop-Off

Internet Website


Interactive Kiosk


MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

self administered questionnaires1
Self-Administered Questionnaires
  • Self-administered questionnaires are those questionnaires that are filled in by the respondent independently, i.e. without the direct interaction with an interviewer
  • There are many ways for distributing self-administered questionnaires, for example, by mailing or faxing questionnaires to people, by posting them on websites, by distributing them at certain locations and places (airline flights, resteraunts, hotels etc.), by including them as inserts in magazines and so forth
  • Researchers who have to interpret self-administered questionnaires have to be skillful at trying to understand what is being conveyed to them in written or electronic - rather than verbal - form

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

mail surveys
Mail Surveys
  • A mail survey is a self-administered questionnaire dispatched to respondents through the mail
  • Mail surveys have several advantages and disadvantages:
    • geographic flexibility
    • cost
    • respondent convenience
    • interviewers absence
    • standardized questions
    • time factor
    • length of the questionnaire

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

mail surveys advantages 1
Mail Surveys: Advantages (1)
  • Geographic Flexibility – Mail questionnaires can be distributed over a geographically wide area simultaneously and quickly, including to respondents who may live in remote or not so cheaply accessible areas, and respondents who may not be easy to reach due to extensive comittments, such as executives. Mail questionaires can also be easily and quickly distributed at meetings or to employees in an organization, along with basic guidelines for filling in the questionnaire
  • Cost – Mail questionnaires are comparatively cheaper to conduct than personal interviews and telephone surveys, but can still be quite costly because of the costs of printing and mailing questionnaires, and possible follow-up actions

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

mail surveys advantages 2
Mail Surveys: Advantages (2)
  • Responent Convenience – Questionnaires can be filled out at the respondents convenience. The respondent has time to think about his or her answer which may provide more accurate data and information to the interviewer than would be possible in the case of personal interviews or telephone surveys
  • Interviewer Absence – Respondents may be willing to disclose sensitive information in a mail survey which they may not be willing to do if being interviewed personally

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

mail surveys disadvantages 1
Mail Surveys: Disadvantages (1)
  • Interviewer Absence – Respondents may attach a different subjective meaning to questionnaires, which are outside the control or influence of the interviewer who cannot be consulted or queried. Respondents may thus misunderstand certain questions or aspects of the survey
  • Standardized Questions – Misunderstanding of questions on the part of the respondent can create problems since no interviewer is present to answer queries or clarify misunderstandings or overcome comprehension problems
  • Time Factor – Mail surveys may be inappropriate if time is very limited and information is needed quickly. Usually, it can take a few weeks before completed mail questionnaires are received, follow-up action initiated and the information analyzed

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

mail surveys disadvantages 2
Mail Surveys: Disadvantages (2)
  • Length of Mail Questionnaire – If the questionnaire is quite long (usually > 6 pages), respondents must give considerable effort and may not be willing to invest the effort. Sometimes, this reluctance can be overcome by using incentives
  • Wrong Respondents – Questionnaires may not be answered by the target respondents (e.g. senior executives), instead, the task of filling up the questionnaire is delegated to subordinates
  • Social Factors – The response rate is dependent on social and economic factors such as the education level of the respondent and his or her economic status. More educated and well-to-do respondents, and those with more interest in the subject of the survey, tend to reply more to questionnaires than respondents with lessor education and of lessor economic means

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

techniques to increase mail survey response rates
Techniques to Increase Mail Survey Response Rates

There are several techniques which can be used to increase response rates to

mail surveys. Examples:

  • Using a stamped return envelope
  • Designing and formatting attractive, easy-to-understand and interesting questions
  • Inclusion of a cover letter or personalized letter
  • Preliminary notification a few days prior to launching the mail survey
  • Monetary incentives
  • Follow-up efforts
  • Survey sponsorship (nature of organization undertaking the survey)
  • Miscellaneous innovative techniques (e.g.: commemorative postage stamps, colour of questionnaire, mechanics of conducting mail surveys)

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

fax surveys
Fax Surveys

Fax Survey – A survey in which questionnaires are distributed and/or returned through fax machines


Reduction in printing and postage costs for the researcher and faster distribution and return than through mail surveys


Not all respondents have fax machines and some respondents may not want to return the fax if transmission cost is high due to geographical distance. As with mail surveys, respondents with more extreme views, who are interested in the subject of the survey, will be more likely to respond, thus creating a bias effect

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

email surveys
eMail Surveys

eMail Survey – A survey in which questionnaires are distributed and returned via eMail. Surveys conducted with eMail are especially suited for time-sensitive issues


Speed of distribution, lower distribution and processing costs, faster turnaround time, more flexibility, and less handling of paper questionnaire


Not all respondents have eMail. There may be concerns on the part of the respondents about confidentiality, the format of eMails can differ considerably depending on the programmes used and the settings of the respondents computer (spam management). Moreover, respondents have different skill levels in handling eMails, especially complicated survey-related ones

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

internet surveys
Internet Surveys

InternetSurvey – An internet survey is a self-administered questionnaire which is posted on a website. Some major advantages of using the Internet for Conducting Surveys:

  • access to a large (possibly global) audience on 24-hour basis
  • Real-time data entry and analysis
  • More accurate data capture if properly programmed
  • obtaining confidential, anonymous answers quickly and cost-effectively
  • No costs for paper, postage, data entry and administrative costs
  • Large samples can be larger than with interviews and other types of self-administered questionnaires
  • Questionnaires can include use of appealing multimedia aids including photographs or drawings of prototypes
  • Callbacks are automated (if response incomplete or not given)
  • eMail can be used to invite respondents to visit the website, for e.g. to participate in panels
  • Flexible and personalized questioning of respondents

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

internet surveys1
Internet Surveys

Some major disadvantages of using the internet for conducting surveys:

  • Many people in the general population do not have access to the internet
  • Different levels of technology may be prevalent (broadband or dial-up connectivity) which may result in some users not being able to access information as quick as others
  • Hardware deficiencies and/or software incompatability
  • Different computer skill levels
  • Physical incentives (e.g. inclusion of money) is not possible, only the promise of a future reward
  • Research on internet surveys is small and so are ideas for improving response rates

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

other survey types
Other Survey Types

Other types of surveys include

Kiosk Surveys, i.e., surveys conducted with the help of computers are installed in kiosks in different public locations, such as exhibitions and trade shows, conferences and conventions, museums and so forth. A disadvantage of using kiosk surveys is that usually computer-literate persons and those having the time and interest in the survey subject will respond

Mixed Surveys, i.e., a combination of personal and telephone interviews, mail, eMail, fax and internet. Mixed surveys have both advantages (e.g. better screening of respondents) and disadvantages (waning respondent interest or non-availability)

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

  • Pretesting is a technique used to improve the quality of questionnaires with a view to ensuring that respondents understand and do not omit questions or do not misinterpret instructions given to them for filling out the questionnaire
  • Pretesting involves sending questionnaires to a group of respondents for the purpose of detecting flaws in the questionnaires design or instructions. Pretesting can, alternatively, rely on asking other research professionals to do this assignment or asking the manager or client who commissioned the research (who should always read the questionnaire to ascertain whether it suits his or her requirement)
  • Problems typically occur in wording questions, problems with lead questions, and bias due to the question sequence

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

ethical issues in survey research
Ethical Issues in Survey Research

Ethical Considerations while undertaking survey research include:

  • Avoidance by the researcher of deception and misinformation and practices that may harm, humiliate or mislead respondents
  • Observing respondents right to privacy and confidentiality
  • Honesty in collecting data
  • Objectivity in analysing and interpreting data

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

advantages and disadvantages of typical survey methods
Advantages and Disadvantages of Typical Survey Methods
  • No survey form is perfect. It depends on the nature of the research problem and objectives of the research, the information required, the time-frame, budget and other available resources for the research, and a host of other issues
  • For a comparative tabulation of the respective advantages and disadvantages of the various methods for conducting surveys, see William G. Zikmund, Business Research Methods, 7.ed., p. 228.

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

scientific observation
Scientific Observation
  • Scientific Observation is the systematic process of recording the behavioural patterns of people, objects, and occurrences as they are witnessed
  • In observation, there is no direct interaction with respondents – no communication or questioning takes place while data is collected
  • A major advantage of observation (over surveys) is that the data collected is done at the time the actual behaviour or situation takes place, and it is not subject to distortions, inaccuracies and respondent biases and so forth.
  • A major limitation of observation is that many cognitive phenomona such as attitudes, motivations, expectations, intentions and preferences cannot be observed. Also, observation usually is of short-duration as observation over longer periods is tedious and expensive

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

observable phenomena
Observable Phenomena

There are 7 types of observable phenomona:

  • Human behaviour or action (e.g.: movement patterns of workers in a factory or consumers in a shopping mall)
  • Verbal behaviour (e.g.: statements made by shoppers waiting in the queue)
  • Expressive behaviour (e.g.: body language, facial expressions and tone of voice)
  • Spatial relations (e.g.: proximity of the offices of corporate executives to the office of the CEO)
  • Temporal patterns (e.g.: duration it takes an employee to perform a task)
  • Physical objects (e.g.: how much paper is recycled in an office)
  • Verbal or pictorial records (e.g.: how many graphics and sketches appear in an appliance instruction manual)

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

means of observation
Means of Observation

There are two ways for observing people, objects, events and other phenomona:

  • Human Observation – Human observers are used when the behaviour or situation to be recorded is complex and not easily predictable in advance of the research
  • Mechanical Observation - Mechanical Observation is used when the behaviour or situation to be recorded is routine, repetitive or programmatic

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

visible and hidden observation
Visible and Hidden Observation

Visible Observation – This occurs when the observer‘s presence is visible to the research subject

Visible Observation has the advantage that the research subject is aware of his or her participation in the research and can choose to terminate it if desired; the disadvantage lies in that the subject may adapt his or her behaviour and that the data collected may consequently not be accurate

Hidden Observation – This occurs when the observer‘s presence is not visible to the research subject

Hidden Observation has the advantage that the subject‘s consent is not required and that because the subject is unaware of being observed, he or she will not adapt the behaviour accordingly; the disadvantage lies in the violation of the subject‘s privacy

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

direct observation
Direct Observation
  • Direct observation is an attempt by the researcher to observe and record what naturally occurs without creating any artificial situation
  • Direct observation can yield many types of data more accurately than through questioning (e.g. respondents being interviewed might not be able to indicate how much time they spend performing individual tasks but direct observation can determine this quite straightforwardly)
  • Direct observation is often the only feasible or economic option for collecting data (e.g. collecting data on market prices for specific products or determining where the majority of a supermarket‘s customers come from based on their car registration numbers)
  • Direct observation also has shortcomings. „Observer Bias“, for instance, may arise from the element of subjectivity brought into play by observers and false attributions about the subject‘s educational background and economic status, failure to record all the relevant data and misinterpretation of the data (facial expressions are wrongly interpreted, spatial proximity has another reason etc.)

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan

scientifically contrived observation
Scientifically Contrived Observation
  • Scientifically contrived observation is about observing subject‘s in an artificial environment created by the observer for the purpose of collecting data. Examples:
    • A researcher posing as a passenger on an airline may complain about the quality of lunch to the air hostess in order to record her reaction
    • A researcher posing as a shopper asks about a product in the local supermarket in order to evaluate the performance of the sales person
  • Contrived observation has its advantages. One major disadvantage, though, is that it is – or can be – seen as a means of entrapment and putting subjects‘ in a difficult or embarrassing situation

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan