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Practical advantages : Practical disadvantages:
Quick and cheap means of gathering large Data can be limited and superficial, need to
quantities of data from large number of be brief limit the amount of info. Because long
people. questionnaires unlikely to be completed take
No need to recruit interviewer or observers,
because respondents complete + return Sometimes need to offer incentives to
questionnaires themselves. Ex. postal persuade respondents to complete form. E.g.
questionnaires. prize draw, add to cost.
Can easily quantify data, especially pre-coded Postal questionnaire issue: potential
and closed ended can be proceed on respondents might not receive
Reliability Questionnaires are snap shots:
Questionnaires are reliable can be replicated They give a picture of a social reality at only
by other sociologist to achieve similar results. one moment in time: the moment when the
respondent answers the question.
Because questions and choice of answer are
same, only difference is respondents allow Fail to produce a fully valid picture because
you to compare answers. they do not capture the way people attitudes
and behaviour change.
Postal questionnaire: no researcher presents But methods like Participants observation
to influence answers. Like in interviews. provide moving image of social life which is
Hypothesis: Imposing the researcher meanings:
Questionnaires are useful for testing Valid method = gives a truthful picture of
hypothesis can establish cause and effect, people meaning and experience.
E.g. if correlation between 2 factors can
establish cause and effect. Interpretivists argue that questionnaire more
likely to oppose the researcher own
This is attractive to positivists: who take a meanings that respondents.
scientific approach and seek to discover laws
of cause and effects. E.g choice of questionnaires closed ended
questions produce distorted and invalid
picture of reality.
Open ended questions respondent free to
answer, but when researcher code them to
produce quantitate data, researcher may
choice which answers are better for the
Detachment and objectivity. Detachment:
Questionnaires are detached and objective Interpretivists argue questionnaires do not
form of research; research personal give a true picture of those being studied.
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Only method that allow you to gain valid
questionnaires. This is attractive to positivists. picture are methods that get you close to
subject, such Participant observation.
Lack of contact no opportunity to clarify
what the question means, or respond and
research might interpret question differently,
problem if cultural and language difference
Ethical issues: Lying, forgetting and `right answerism'
Pose few ethical issues compared to other Questionnaires rely on respondents
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Questionnaires are reliable, pre coded Tell us little about the meaning held by
questions can produce quantitative data, social actors
enables to measure and identify behaviour And questionnaires not very valid and
patterns and establish cause and effect. interpretivism main goal is validity
Questionnaires often large scale