Assault on Surveys

James A. Davis, a career asker, says my book, The Problem with Survey Research  is an “assault on surveys”.    Yes it is!  An assault!  A demolition job!  And it’s about time!  Survey research (any procedure or instrument that asks questions of respondents) has had a free ride, never before subject to the sustained, well-researched assessment I provide; a critique demonstrating that answers to questions are unreliable.  Answers are unreliable because when you only have answers to questions it’s impossible to determine which, if any, answer is correct or incorrect.   As the case against asking as a way to find out what’s really going is accepted–in the academy and elsewhere–observation, document analysis, and other “proper” (as I call them in the last Part of my book)  methods of data collection and research designs become more attractive and more widely used.  Thereby, reliable information is acquired and problem solving optimized.  

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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