RM - Questionnaires

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  • Created by: Muy
  • Created on: 20-04-13 13:30

Pros and Cons of Questtionaires

Used mostly as a social survey e.g. census, they ask respondents to answer pre set close ended questions

Practical Issues - 

Cheap & quick method to gather quantitative dates from a lot of respondents

No recruitments of interviewers required

Data is easily quantified and computer-processed

Data is often limited and superficial as they are fairly brief

Incentives may be needed to encourage respondents to complete the questionnaire (low response rates affect representativeness and costs)

Postal questionnaries may not be recieved

Low response rates sometimes due to faulty design e.g. complex language,

Questionnaries are inflexible and therefore snapshots

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Positivist issues

Positivist view questionnaries as representative, reliable, objective, detached, testing hypothesis, and developing causal laws

Hypothesis testing - positivists follow the natural science model to discover causal laws... Questionnaires yeild quantitative data about variables allowing resarched to test hypothesis and identify correlations between variables

Its reliable as its easily replicable by other researchers

Positivists like em cos they are large scale, distrubuted quickly and cheaply, large geographical areas 


Questionnaries can have low response rates

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Positivists aim to produe generalisations but they must choose a sample from a demographic

Sampling frame is a list of members of the research population - the sample is drawn from this

Techniques -

Random sampling (selections purely by chance)

Quasi-random sampling (e.g. selecting every 4th name in a list)

Stratified random sampling (subdivides population in relevant catergories and random selects a sample of each)

Quota sampling (researchers look for the right number (quota) required in each category)

Non representive sampling such as 'snowball sampling', used where theres no sampling frame for the population

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Detachment and ethical issues

Positivists believe scientific resarch is objective, unbiased and detached... Values cant contaminate research findings - this is likely as questionnaries mean low personal involvement with respondents so no influence on answers

Ethical issues - 

Parental consent may be required with children and confendentiality is assured as most are completed anonymously

INTERPRETIVISTS want to discover underlying meanings of our actions, questionnaires cannot yield valid data about actors' meanings

Interpretivists rejects detachment/objectivity as they dont produce valid data, we need subjective understanding of actors meanings (e.g. with questionnaires its impossible to clarify questions due to little contact between researcher/respondent)

Questionnaries impose researchers framework of ideas on the respondent (pre determined questions decided by researcher)

Lying, forgetting, impressing etc. can affect responses and cause validity problems 

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