Definition of Survey Research

In my book, The Problem with Survey Research, I define “survey research” as “any procedure or instrument that asks questions of respondents” (p. xv).   I’ve now concluded that this definition needs to be revised because it does not account for those who do not respond; often 40-80 % of those asked.  Nonresponse is acknowledged as a major characteristic of virtually every asking exertion and a well recognized weakness; thus, a more accurate operational definition is: survey research is any procedure or instrument that asks questions that may, or may not, be answered.  Moreover, because most survey research produces more nonresponse than answers, it might be–and I’ll have to give this more thought–that an even more precise operational definition of survey research than the one above is: survey research is any procedure or instrument that asks questions that in the great majority of instances are not answered.

 

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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2 Responses to Definition of Survey Research

  1. Pingback: Survey Researchers and Public Opinion | George Beam's Blog

  2. Pingback: Addiction to Survey Research | George Beam's Blog

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