An anthropologist s view of surveys
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An anthropologist’s view of surveys. 1. Surveys are overused.

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An anthropologist s view of surveys
An anthropologist’s view of surveys

1. Surveys are overused.

It is better to get general information on a site or population from existing data sets and literature, key informants, observation, focus groups and informal interviews before thinking about a survey. In any case, do not collect general information in a survey and do not rely on surveys for all “data needs”—use a variety of methods appropriate to different questions and settings.


An anthropologist s view of surveys1
An anthropologist’s view of surveys

2. Surveys should be used primarily for testing hypotheses.

Use the survey to measure variation in the population and to test hypotheses. But do this when you already have collected general information, formulated the research question and/or hypothesis. Keep the survey focused!


An anthropologist s view of surveys2
An anthropologist’s view of surveys

  • Many surveys are very poorly designed.

  • They do not use of local knowledge categories so that people can easily understand questions

  • They are not field-tested and well translated

  • They are too long and boring

  • The questions may be sensitive

  • The analysis is not given back to the respondents for verification