Questionnaires and Surveys - AS Sociology Methods revision

Basic revision notes on the advantages and disadvantages of Questionnaires and Social Surveys. 

For further advantages and disadvantages of Questionnaires and Surveys (particularly for AQA A2 students), refer to Haralambos & Holborn Sociology Themes and Perspectives, Seventh edition Student Handbook (ISBN: 978-0-00-731072-2). Pages 210-211

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AS Sociology 4th May 2010
Research Methods Revision
Questionnaires and Surveys
3 types of survey
Social surveys are largescale studies which collect standardised data about large
groups, often using questionnaires. There are 3 main types:
1. Factual ­ collective of descriptive information, e.g. Gordon et al (2000) on
2. Attitude ­ examination of subjective opinions, e.g. Opinion polls
3. Explanatory ­ Test theories or produce hypothesis, e.g. Marshall et al (1988)
study of class
Advantages of Surveys
Large samples possible
Reliable and representative
Quick data collection
Relatively cheap
Disadvantages of Surveys
Low in validity
Numeric data produced ­ only paints a static picture of society
3 types of Questionnaires
1. Postal ­ tend to suffer low response rates but have the advantage of the
respondent being able to fill them out in their own home
2. Telephone ­ Suffer from coldcaller effect and may not be representative (not
everyone will be in at the same time)
3. Internet/Email ­ Can reach endless respondents but may suffer a low response
rate due to the spam effect
2 types of questions
1. Open ended ­ Respondents can express opinions which creates valid data.
However, it is hard to quantify and answers must be interpreted
2. Closed ­ Easy to classify and quantify. Much more reliable but lack validity
Advantages and Disadvantages of Questionnaires
Advantages Disadvantages
Large amounts of data can be collected Respondents may misunderstand Q's
Low validity due to lieing & faulty memory
There is little personal involvement by
researchers Can't use them to understand interaction
Chris Cartwright

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AS Sociology 4th May 2010
Research Methods Revision
Access to subjects in easy Low response rates affect reliability
Easy to quantify and find correlations Some groups will not fill out
Easy to repeat and compare
Chris Cartwright…read more


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