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  • The nature and use of questionnaires: A questionnaire is a list of pre-set questions which the respondants are asked to supply answers, QU can be completed over the phone, face to face, on the internet or sent in post.Researchers see them as a cheap,efficient method for obtaining large amounts of quantifable data on relatively LS- Main tools of measurement in positivists sociology= Easily quantfied & anaylsed more "scientfically" and objectively
  • Questionnaire design: Some Principles and problems: Idea to present all respondants with same questions- Obtain comparable data, should be kept simple and clear -Pilot survey: Important to clear up problems, used to test questions & make sure their meaning is clear, to ensure layout, wording is suitable

1.Designing a Q: As short as possible, clear layout- Clearly laid out, instructions should be easily understood, easy to follow, No. of questions should be kept to minimum, start Q with simplest questions,complicated questions at end, people may be put off from beginning

2.Designing a Q: Clear and neutral language & avoidance of "leading questions"- Qu should be simple & direct, Qu should be phrased in neautral terms- Otherwise respondants might feel expected to give particular answers-Leading Qu= Likely to produce distorted results, Qu should phrased simple, avoiding unfamiliar words

3. Designing a Q: Confidentiality- Reassured that answers will be annonymous

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  • Types of Q's:

1. Pre-coded/ Closed Q: Sometimes called structured/ multiple choice Q, Highly structured- Involve indivduals being asked a No. of pre-set questions with choice of a limited No. of multiple choice answers

-Advantages: Quick to complete, Produce standardized data- easy to classify, quantative statisical data, Reliable- similar results if carried out again (repeatability), Enable comparisons to be made, large sample- Representativeness

- Disadvantages: Meaning of Qu may not be clear,  "Imposition Problem"- The risk that the researcher when asking Qu might be imposing their own views on people, rather than getting what they really think, Limited choice of answers- Imposes strict & artificial limits on what kind of info can be given/ collected- Problem with VALIDITY

2. Open-ended/ Open Q:Sometimes known as unstructured Q,There is no pre-set choice of anwers. Open questions allow individuals to write the responces and dictate them to an interviewer.

-Advantages:Produce more valid data- Respondants using own words to express what they really mean- Imposition problem less serious, Produce more detail and depth,

-Disadvantages: Range of possible answers- diffilcult to classify,quantify, Wide variety of answers- Diffilcult to compare

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  • Types of Q's:

3. Postal/ mail/ online self completion questionnaires: Sent though post (pre-paid envelope), posted on the internet site, maybe sent and returned via email. Respondants that complete the Q= Self Completion, to ensure good RR, Q needs to be well designed, PQ- Incentive= Encourage people to return them

-Advantages: Cheap- compared to PI, esp for collecting data from large numbers of people spread over a wide geographical area, Results obtained quickly, People reply at their leisure- more precise answers, Qu on personal, controversial, embarassing subjects- more likely to get a better RR in an annoymous Q, No problem of IB.Postal Q are often the only financially viable option when collecting info from, large geographically dispersed populations

-Disadvantages: Major problem of non responce in P and other SC Q- not getting representative responces in interent surveys, People may not give valid truthful replies- due to forgetfulness, dishonesty/ different interpretations, no interviewer to prompt replies, No way of knowing whether right person completed Q

- Edward. el. al:  Non responce reduces the effective sample size & can affect the validity. Pose a major threat to quality of research. Found that Postal Q improved when- Financial incentive was offered, short questionnaires were used, coloured ink was used, sent with first class post, Q were designed to appeal interests of participents

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  • The validity of questionnaire research: Interpretivists- Question whether Q produce a valid picture of the social world & human behaviour. They make the following criticisms:

1. Imposition: Positivist-based Q, esp high structured Q, risk the "imposition problem", Q's don't really discover the way respondants see the world, Impossible for respondants to express feelings and subtle shades of opinions in statistical form- Impossible to measure in subjective factors

2. Validity: No gurantee people will tell the truth in questionnaire. People may give answers they think are socially acceptable: 

- 2001 Census: 0.7% of the population of England described their religon as "Jedi"- Fictional character from Star Wars

-There maybe different meanings attatched to the wording of questionnaires, which may influence the result- "Scrouging Piresans"

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