The use of SLOPS indicates the desperation and/or ignorance of the survey researchers who use them.  The following is an edited (4/21/12) letter I sent to Quality Progress magazine in response to an article on outsourcing based on results of a SLOP.

The (unedited) letter was accepted for publication and is available at:   As you will notice, authors of other letters on the SLOP-based article do not recognize the uselessness of Internet surveys and accept the SLOP-based information.  I believe that my new book, The Problem with Survey Research has started a conversation that will erode confidence in all types of survey research, not just SLOPS, and result in greater use of observation, experiments, formal/predictive model building and testing, and other, as I call them, “proper” methods of data collection and proper research designs.

Seibert and Schiemann’s online survey-based article on outsourcing, “Reversing Course?” (July 2011, pp. 34-43) provides us with an opportunity to reassess this type of survey; appropriately dubbed, SLOPS (self-selected opinion polls).  SLOPS are notoriously unrepresentative (or of unknown and unknowable representativeness) and, therefore, answers produced by SLOPS are “entirely useless for anything other than entertainment”; thus useless for those who want to know about types and effects of outsourcing.  Unrepresentative results cannot be generalized to whole populations (manufacturing industries, aerospace, and others listed in Table 1).  Answers of an unrepresentative sample merely indicate what that particular group of respondents said.  SLOPS shouldn’t be used in serious investigations.

(Above quote from: Irving Saulwick and Denis Muller, “The slippery world of polls, slops and worms”, Retrieved 7/29/2011.)

About georgebeam

George Beam is an educator and author. The perspectives that inform his interpretations of the topics of this blog–-as well as his other writings and university courses -–are system analysis, behaviorism, and Internet effects. Specific interests include quality management, methodology, and politics. He is Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Public Administration; Affiliated Faculty, Department of Political Science; and, previously, Head, Department of Public Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago
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