1. Survey Research
The behaviors and thoughts related to certain population are gathered in the form of statistical surveys or the questionnaires leading to the phenomenon of the survey research. The broad information is collecting the question responses from the respondents and the surveys are conducted for the detailed knowledge through written ideas related to certain subjects.
2. Types of Surveys
Time dimensions are taken into account for the survey methods. Generally the survey methods are divided into two large spectrums that are longitudinal surveys and cross sectional surveys.
2.1. Longitudinal surveys
The survey samples are collected along the timeline at different times to study the trends of change that has occurred in the extensive time period. As the students behavior is studied selecting the junior class and then moving onwards to the high grades to demonstrate the change in abilities quantitatively and time over the extended time period. The longitudinal surveys are subdivided further into Panel studies, trend studies and cohort studies.
2.1.1. Panel Studies
In panel studies the subject of study over the extended time would be the same as explained above.
2.1.2. Trend studies
The trend is observed over the time to but the subjects though from the same population would be different at different times of the study.
2.1.3. Cohort Studies
The samples would be drawn from the specific group at different intervals but would be randomly selected. The subjects would be different but the same population would be followed up for this type of survey.
2.2. Cross Sectional Surveys
The time selection is done at a single point at which the samples are studies. The cross sectional study serves the purposed of comparison of different population samples at different times and is regard as a choice method of sampling.
3. Selecting the Survey Method
The selection of a survey method or type in the social researches is the most critical decisions in survey research as it determines the oath of the whole research. The associated advantages and disadvantages of different sampling methods are accessed first and then the method is chosen accordingly. Various issues while selecting the survey method are stated below.
3.1. Population Issues
The accessibility of the population and the related considerations are primary concern of selection the issues are related to enumeration of population, literacy rate in the considered sample, language to access the population and the geographical restrictions.
The listing of people taken for sampling is hardly found as the voters list or number of driving licenses could not indicate the homeless people, number of farmers, beggars etc. The main strategy of filling up questionnaires and taking up interviews is planned. In the questionnaire filling case the reading and writing abilities of the respondents are must; therefore the surety is to be made to avoid the technical language in the questionnaire and make it as sample as possible. In case of interviews the Multilanguage in the area creates the hindrance; so the interview taker should be native to that population knowing all the local languages. And in case of wide geographical spread it’s not possible to assure cooperation of all the subjects related to the population and also not possible to cover the whole population rendering it to represent the whole population.
3.2. Sampling Issues
Sampling issues may includes the availability of data, availability of the respondents, identification of the right respondent, making possible efforts to include maximum representatives of population and the rate of responses expected from the subjects.
3.3. Question Issues
The type of the survey that is selected is also dependent upon the questions to be asked and which not. The questions related issue may be question type, the complexity of the questions as the remote people could not understand the complex terminology, and requirement of the screening questions to check the literacy level of the population, questions sequence in a questionnaire, length of the questions and whether or not the response scale should be used.
3.4. Content Issues
The utilization of the survey type according to the content is also an issue in case of selecting the sampling method and may include the related issues like knowledge of the respondents towards the issue and the need of respondent consultancy towards the records.
3.5. Bias Issues
The sample subjects of the employees are often sticking to certain prejudices and biases. The biases may or may not be a big issue for sampling. The issues would include the need to avoid the social desirability, control of subversion of interviewer and avoidance of the wrong respondent.
3.6. Administrative Issues
Feasibility for conduction of the survey is very important as the cost, facilities, time, personnel and human resource are the major requirement for making the survey successful.
4. Constructing the Survey
The survey is constructed according to the survey instruments incorporating the decisions about wording, placement, format, and content. The final product however is not the result of pre formulated plan; it comes out new all time according to the needs and the requirements. The learning of types is the main issue with sampling, then choosing one from the interviews and the questionnaires would be followed. The question identification is then preceded by its proper placement in the survey. The common sense in this whole procedure plays an important role, which could make the results constructive or total rule out of the inappropriate method being employed.
The questionnaires are not that much personal and exact as that of the interviews in which there is a physical presence of the interviewer or the interviewee. The direct contact between the interviewer or the interviewee is seen in the personal interviews in which all the questions are made answerable unlike that of mailing surveys where the question are answered according to the choice. The opinions and impressions could be effectively made in the interviews rather questionnaires. The telephone interviews are also common to reach the response in no time; being more or less similar to the personal interviews. The main disadvantage is that all the subjects don’t have access to the personal phone numbers and the number of respondents would be limited in this case.
6. Plus & Minus of Survey Methods
6.1. Plus of the surveys
• Survey research covers the maximum population in the minimum expenses.
• The remote locations could be reachable through telephone, mail or the interview.
• The multiple variables can be analyzed through the analysis of large samples.
• The questions can be made according to the flexibility as there are several ways to ask a simple question rendering the precision of the standard questions.
6.2. Minus of the surveys
• The standardization demands the formulation of generalized questions that could be answerable by most of the respondents.
• The designs of survey once formulated could not be changed in the study course, so the method is inflexible from start to end.
• The sample volume should very large as compared to other sampling techniques.
• The controversial questions are unaware in different contexts that make generalization impossible.
• McCarthy, Robert L. Survey Research Center. Website HREF="http://srcweb.berkeley.edu:4229/ .retrieved on May 16, 2011.
• Trochim, William M. "Survey Research." The Research Methods Knowledge Base, 2nd Edition.
• Alreck, P. L., & Settle, R. B. (1995). The survey research handbook: Guidelines and strategies for conducting a survey (2nd). Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin.
• Belson, W.A. (1986). Validity in survey research. Brookvield, VT: Gower.