Survey Research Is Not Scientific Or Empirical

Survey researchers/askers are al the time puffing themselves up by calling themselves “scientists” (e.g., Groves, et al., 2002, xiii), asserting that asking is a “scientific” method, referring to answers as “empirical” and by claiming to “observe”. (e.g., Rainey and Bozeman, 2000). None of this is correct.  Survey researchers are NOT scientists.  Scientists don’t ask (except, now and then, what’s for dinner?); accordingly, asking is NOT a scientific method. Answers are NOT empirical, as that term is used in science. “Empirical”, according to the science, dictionary, definition means data derived from observation or experiments (Barnhart, with Steinmetz, 1986, 191); answers are derived from questions. Moreover, survey researchers do not observe and do not acquire observations; at least not as these terms/concepts are used in science. Whereas scientists observe empirical phenomena, askers only READ or HEAR answers to questions.

I describe in greater detail how askers puff up themselves and push the asking method in my book, The Problem with Survey Research, Chapter 11, “Addicted Askers”.

REFERENCES

Barnhart, R. K. with Steinmetz, S. (1986) Hammond Barnhart Dictionary of Science. Maplewood, N.J.: Hammond.

Groves, R. M., et al., eds. (2002) Survey Nonresponse. N.Y.: Wiley.

Rainey, H. G., and Bozeman, B. (2000) “Comparing Public and Private Organizations: Empirical Research and the Power of the A Priori”. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 447-69

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
This entry was posted in Survey Research and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s