Research Methods- Social Surveys

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What are the two types of social surveys?
-Structured interviews, -Questionnaire,
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What are structured interviews?
Involves asking standardised questions (mainly closed) verbally and recording the answers,
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How can structured interviews be conduted?
Face to face or over the phone,
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Give an example structured interview?
British Crime Survey- Sample size 40,000 victims,
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Who favours structured interviews?
Postivists,
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For one advantage, describe the response rates as compared to other research methods?
Responses rates usually higher than other survey methods, -60%-85%
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Give an example with the BCS?
The BCS has a reponse rate of 75%
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Therefore, how does this improve the findings?
It pushes up the reliability and representativeness of the findings,
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What is another advantage based on confusion?
There is no confusion over the meaning of questions or how to answer them- It can be explained by the researcher,
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What is another advantage about structured interviewers due to the researcher and training?
Interviewers can be trained up quickly and relatively inexpensively,
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Why can researchers be trained quickly?
AS they just have to follow set procedures,
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What is another advantage based on the cost?
Fairly quick and cheap to carry out as compared with informal interviews,
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What theorists have criticised structural interviews?
Interpretivists,
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What is one disadvantage of structured interviews based on bias?
The method can suffer from 'interviewer bias',
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What can lead to interview bias?
The way questions are phrased and the interviewers body/ facial expressions can distort results,
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What is the result of the findings?
Reliability is lowered,
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Give an example of bias in what setting?
-In schools, -The wya hte researcher emphasises certain words may change the way pupils answer the questions,
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What is another disadvantage based on the cost and why?
More expensive than other survey methods due to the cost of the interviewers,
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Give an example of this disadvantage with the BCS?
A big expense is the laptops used in the system,
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What is the last disadvantage of structured interviews based on length of time?
-They can take longer than other survey methods,
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Give an example with young students?
Extra time should be given when studying young people as they may not understand questions due to their less developed linguistics and intellectual abilities,
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What are mailed questionnaires?
A type of written or self completion research method which is sent via post or email. The respondent then fills in the questionnaire and mails it back,
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Give an example of a sociological study with questionnaires and what was the sample size?
Conor and Dewson- Delivered postal questionnaires on factors influencing the decision of working class students to go to university- Sample size 4000
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Who has identified the advantages of questionnaires?
Postivists,
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What is one advantage of questionnaires due to their global range?
Can cover large geographical areas,
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What effect does this have on the findings?
Reliability and representativeness increases as a consequence,
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What is another advantage based on the researchers involvement?
The researche is detached and objective and therefore bias is minimal,
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What effect does this have on the findings?
Reliability increases,
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What is another advantage of mailed questionnaires with time?
It gives participants time to give thought to their answers,
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What effect does this have on the findings?
Increases reliability,
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Why do written questionnaires in schools often have high response rates?
As Head teachers have given their consent and allocated time in the day for them to be completed and students are used to completing them,
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What is another advantage of questionnaires to do with ethical issues and the participants dentity?
Questionnaires allow for anonymity and detachment,
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Give an example of this advantage with students?
Students may be willing to fill in questionnaires on bullying as their anonymity offers them protection,
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What is the last advantage of questionnaires based on their cost and time?
-Quick and cheap as compared to other research methods, -Costs are also reduced in comparison to other methods due to no interviews,
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However, who has identified disadvantages with questionnaires?
Interpretivists,
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Give a disadvantage of mailed questionnaires with the reponse rate?
-Can recieve low response rates 25%-50%
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Give an example of this response rate in schools?
If questionnaires are long, teachers may be unwilling to complete them as they are overworked,
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What type of class are more likely to respond to questionnaires?
parents of working class students are less likely to return questionnaires than middle class parents,
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What effect does this have on the findings?
-Destroy the representativeness, -Reliability lowered,
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What is another disadvantage based on confusion?
With mailed questionnaires there is no one there to explain the questions for completion,
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What is the effect on the findings?
The result of the quesionnaires being incomplete or spoiled, -Reduces validity,
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What is another disadvantage of questionnaires based on uncertainty of the participant and their answer?
Cannot be sure a respondent has recieved a questionnaire and cannot guarantee the questionnaire has been completed by the person to whom it was addressed,
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What is the effect on the findings?
Validity is reduced,
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For general theoretical advantages of formal interviews and questionnaires, what is an advantage based on sample sizes?
-Large sample sizes are possible,
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Give an example with the BCS?
Sample size is 40,000.
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What is the effect on the findings?
-Pushes up representativeness, -Allows generalisations to be made from the sample population,
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Give another advantage due to the questions asked and the effect on the results?
-The questions are standardised, -So reliability is increased,
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What is another advantages based on the type of questions used?
-Use of largely closed questions, -Means quantitative data is produced allowing statistics to be created,
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Therefore what can be created due to the use of quantitative data?
Comparisons and predictions,
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What is another general theoretical advantage based on hypotheses?
They are useful for testing hypotheses about cause and effect relationships,
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What can be created from these cause and effect relationships?
Social laws and predictions can be made,
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For general theoretical disadvantages of formal interviews and questionnaires, what is a disadvantage based on lies?
People may lie as no rapport is built up with the researcher,
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Give an example with pupils?
School pupils may also see the researcher as an authority figure too much like a teacher and may not trust them,
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What is another disadvantage based on forgetting or uncertainty?
People may forget or not know answers to questions,
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What answers might some participants give researchers and the effects on the findings?
'Right answerism' so answers they think the researcher wants to hear, -Lowers validity,
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What is another disavantage of structured interviews and questionnaires based on shallow answers?
Closed questions can produce shallow answers as the questions limit what the respondent can say. This can result in a lack of depth, insight, meaning and feelings,
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What is the effect on the results?
Validity is lowered,
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What is another general theoretical disadvantage based on the researcher's meaning and an example?
Surveys impose the researchers meanings. For example the researcher decided what questions are important.
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Also, what is a disadvantage based on pre-defined ansers?
Due to the large use of closed questions the surveys result in premature closure, the results are pre-defined and the answer the respondent is looking for may not be present,
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What is the effect on the findings?
Lowers validity,
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What is another theoretical disadvantage based on flexibility?
There is a lack of flexibility in that the questions are pre-defined and so the researcher has no room to follow up interesting avenues that may open up during the research,
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For general ethical issues for social surveys, what should always be gained before starting the research?
Gain informed consent,
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All people should have the right to what?
Withdraw,
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The questions should not bbe too what?
Too intrusive or sensitive,
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The researcher should provide what two things to ensure the safety of their participants and an example?
-Protection from harm-Students shouldn't be questionned for too long as they may cause distress, -Remain anonyous- Research on children shouldn't be kept unless vital,
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For general practical problems of social surveys, what is a problem based on making concepts understandable?
Operationalising sociological concepts so they are understandable to the public can be difficult,
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What is another practical problem based on acces and an example?
-Acces problems, -Schools may be reluctant to allow surveys to be done in schools because of the disruption caused,
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What is another practical problem about the length of the questionnaires and an example of why?
-Have to keep questionnaires short, -Surveys carried out on young people have to be kept short due to their short attention spans,
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What is the effect on the results?
Limits the information that can be gathered,
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What is the last practical problem based on how surveys are percieved?
-Surveys are often percieved as formal and official documents,
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Why can this be a problem for students?
Some school students e.g. anti-school students may refuse to co-operate or take surveys seriously,
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Card 2

Front

What are structured interviews?

Back

Involves asking standardised questions (mainly closed) verbally and recording the answers,

Card 3

Front

How can structured interviews be conduted?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Give an example structured interview?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Who favours structured interviews?

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