Eroding Confidence in Surveys and In-Depth Interviews

Below is my review of Allan Kellehear, The Unobtrusive Researcher, which I’ve also posted on Amazon.  It’s part of my ongoing effort to weaken enthusiasm for survey research via promotion of observation and other non-asking methods:

Eroding Confidence in Surveys and In-Depth Interviews

Kellehear is one of an increasing number of people who erodes confidence in surveys and in-depth interviews by promoting “proper” (as I call them in my book, The Problem with Survey Research) methods of data collection and proper research designs. Most of the book focuses on observation and content analysis: two proper methods of data collection. However, the Internet as a method of data collection and as a source of data is not mentioned. That’s a serious omission for today’s researchers but, given the publication date of The Unobtrusive Researcher (1993), not surprising.

Another weakness of this book is its incompleteness in covering proper research designs. For instance, Kellehear barely mentions the need for a research design that uses multiple sources. Also, model building and testing is only briefly discussed. Experimentation is not covered nor is comparison.
Despite its limitations, The Unobtrusive Researcher is worth our attention because it helps move social science away from survey research and toward methods that will optimize its relevancy and contributions to solving the problems facing citizens and policy makers.

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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