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Social Surveys Chapter 6.

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1 Social Surveys Chapter 6

2 Learning outcomes At the end of this chapter you will be able to:
determine the appropriateness of the survey as a research design demonstrate the importance of questionnaire layout, structure and presentation design reliable and valid questions utilize a variety of question types and attitudinal scales draft a short questionnaire assess the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches to survey research

3 Introduction ln our experience the survey method is one of the most frequently utilised designs in undergraduate dissertations in leisure and tourism. Furthermore, an examination of the various academic journals would reinforce the claim that 'surveys are, arguably, the most important source of information for tourism analysis, planning and decision-making'.

4 Introduction However, the manner in which the survey is applied, is often far removed from what most research methods texts would regard as best practice. Moreover, the survey is not always the most appropriate research instrument for satisfying research goals. Therefore, prior to embarking on a formal survey some consideration should be given to alternative data sources and research methods.

5 Introduction Relevant information may already be available from secondary sources or other designs may be more appropriate. In this chapter the main approaches to surveys in tourism and leisure research will be outlined. In addition, the manner in which the survey has been utilized in published research and the practicalities of undertaking this style of research will be examined.

6 Introduction Survey research involves asking participants direct questions either as part of a face-to­face interview, by telephone interview or by post The normal survey tool is a series of printed questions in the form of a questionnaire or interview schedule sort. The purpose of the questionnaire is to obtain reliable and valid data on the being researched.

7 Introduction The most distinguishing feature of survey research is probably the size of the sample or the number of participants involved. Surveys are usually large scale, though it is impossible to give a precise range, as the size can range from less than 100 to over 250 million (in the USA). A key objective of survey research is to obtain data which is representative of the population. In other words, research based on surveys is usually used generalize from the sample to a larger population.

8 Introduction Consequently the issue of sampling is an important one.
The questionnaire is not the defining feature of survey work, but it is one component. Questionnaires and interviews are the prevalent methods of data collection in this research design, but they are also used within experimental and case study designs The survey can be regarded as a structure, in which methods of data collection are employed.

9 Introduction A survey involves;
collection of data (invariably, but not exclusively, by self-administered questionnaire, structured or semi-structured interview) a given set of units (people or organisations) a snapshot (photo) at a single moment of time (may be repeated over a given time interval) systematically obtaining quantifiable data on pre-determined variables, which are then analysed.

10 Introduction Thus the survey is normally a means of collecting quantitative evidence. The survey method incorporates considerations other than those associated with questionnaire design or interview technique. Survey design and implementation entail (lead) the systematic application number of related techniques or stages.

11 Introduction The design and execution of any survey must proceed in a systematic and logical manner. The pre-testing and piloting of a survey is just as important as designing questions. All too often students pay insufficient attention not only to the design of the questionnaire, but fail to pre-test and pilot it. Consequently, early mistakes are compounded and much of the data collected become either difficult to analyse or meaningless.

12 Introduction As you will already realise such technical considerations are not wholly exclusive to the survey methodology. This chapter will focus on the construction and implementation of questionnaires and structured interviews. The success or failure of a survey is essentially determined by the response rate, or the percentage of the total number of people surveyed who responded.

13 Stages in survey research
Appropriate conceptualization and structuring of the research problem Derivation of appropriate measures of the key concepts Determination of the sampling strategy Construction of the questionnaire/interview schedule Pre-testing the survey instrument Piloting the survey Refining and modifying the instrument and implementation process Administration of the questionnaire Data coding and processing Data analysis Report Writing

14 Identifying the Purpose: Descriptive or Analytical?
Surveys have been used for descriptive, predictive, exploratory and explanatory research. It is common to identify two broad categories of survey method: descriptive and analytical. The difference between these two categories may be blurred in practice but the distinction is important in that each raises different design issues.

15 Identifying the purpose
Descriptive surveys are designed to identify the characteristics of a specified population either at a given moment in time, or over a period of time. The visitor survey is probably the most common example of this in the leisure and tourism area though customer attitudes to services or employee attitudes to work are other examples.

16 Identifying the purpose
The key consideration in the descriptive survey is the representativeness of the data obtained. As a key objective is to be able to generalise from the survey findings to the specified population, the sampling method assumes importance. The analytical survey, on the other hand, seeks explanations for observed variations in given phenomena.

17 Identifying the purpose
A visitor/user survey that seeks to account for different levels of satisfaction may be considered an example of this type of survey. Analytical surveys may be inductive or may be designed to test specific hypotheses. A key difference between descriptive and analytical surveys is that in the latter the independent, dependent and extraneous variables need to be identified beforehand.

18 Identifying the purpose
Thus, in analytical surveys, the literature search assumes much more importance as this provides the background information necessary for the identification of key variables. In the analytical survey, control for extraneous variables is achieved during the data analysis phase through the use of appropriate statistical techniques

19 Identifying the purpose
Therefore it is particularly important that all relevant variables are identified and operationalised in the research design. Without due consideration of these variables in the questionnaire or interview schedule, the internal validity of the survey will be threatened. Conceptualisation of the research problem prior to implementation is crucial in analytical surveys and this is facilitated by a thorough review of the literature.

20 The Importance of the literature review
Survey research involves much more than the design of questions. An essential prerequisite of survey design is to know what kind of information is needed, to describe the parameters of the population or to test hypotheses and analyse variance. Like any research design, a survey is designed to answer particular questions or to illuminate subject areas. Survey designs pre-suppose that the research questions have been pre-determined.

21 The Importance of the literature review
This does not necessarily imply that they have been expressed as precise hypotheses, but rather that the boundaries of the field of investigation have been established. It is imperative that the research topic is thoroughly conceptualized and that existing literature is consulted. Design and implementation of the questionnaire should follow an appropriate review of the literature. This is particularly important if the research is seeking to test the validity of published findings, however in a different temporal and geographical context, or established theories.

22 The Importance of the literature review
Published research will not only provide clues as to how the subject can be investigated, but should provide detailed methodologies where studies are to be replicated (repeated). Replication is an important means of verification or refutation(deny) of published material or established ideas and can form an important component of student dissertations and independent study

23 Techniques of data collection
There are a number of different ways of administering a survey, each has costs and benefits. There is no cut and dried solution to any single research problem since the purpose of the research, the participants and resources available will vary from project to project. The survey method uses either a formal, structured interview or a questionnaire.

24 Techniques of data collection
We tend to use the term questionnaire to describe the research instrument but questionnaires do not usually involve interviewers; respondents complete the questions on their own. In an interview, the interviewer asks the respondents the questions sequentially and following a pre-determined schedule; in effect the interviewer reads out the questions.

25 Techniques of data collection
Thus, a questionnaire can be used in several ways: oral questions with answers filled in by the interviewer (either face to face or by telephone), answers completed by the person being interviewed or sent by post and completed by the person and either returned by post or collected individually (postal questionnaire). Often the techniques can be combined.

26 Techniques of data collection
In tourism and leisure research, visitors may be interviewed on arrival about their expectations and on termination of the interview, handed a self-completion questionnaire to be completed at the end of their visits to ascertain experiences and levels of satisfaction. The resulting data files can be merged in SPSS if each file contains the reference number for questionnaire. A key aspect of the survey is that each respondent is presented with the same question in the same manner, so producing standardisation and control.

27 Face-to-face interviews
Face-to-face interviews are essentially structured conversations, or question and answer sessions. The conversation is structured by a schedule of questions which is administered by an interviewer to every respondent in the same way. The face-to-face interview, in its structured form, has one main advantage - the interviewer. The face-to-face contact between participant and researcher is one of the reasons for such surveys generating high response rates.

28 Face-to-face interviews
The interviewer does not merely read questions from a schedule. The potential respondents have to be found, an interview has to be obtained and the respondent's answers recorded in an accurate manner. You should establish who is to be approached and how. This is partly related to your sampling strategy but you should establish a set of procedures which are to be used throughout the survey.

29 Face-to-face interviews
If your survey involves calling at the respondent's house ou or the interviewer needs to know what to do if the respondent is out. Do you call again and if so when, or do you substitute someone else and if so how? Once you have found your respondent you have to persuade him/her to participate in your survey. Your opening statement and manner is quite important; you should identify yourself, be polite, confident, brief, reassuring and ensuring confidentiality.

30 Face-to-face interviews
The implementation of the interview schedule is vitally important. The interview should be efficient and effective - your respondent's time is precious and should not be wasted. The interview should be structured and the questions should flow in a logical order; instructions need to be built into the schedule to remind the interviewer to skip sections or pose additional questions.

31 Face-to-face interviews
When asking open questions the interviewer should record the answer as accurately as possible and seek clarification of ambiguous answers where appropriate. Likewise, remember when you are interviewing on private property you will need to obtain the permission of the owner; this applies to shopping centres, visitor attractions, leisure centres and so on.

32 Face-to-face interviews
The interview can introduce many sources of bias into the research and thereby undermine the reliability of the research instrument. The respondent will make available only that information which they think will be of interest. This is known as the interview effect and is inevitable to some extent. When you employ others to interview for you a number of things can go wrong.

33 Face-to-face interviews
Interviews may not be completed correctly, the wrong people may be interviewed, answers may be made up by the interviewer or recorded inaccurately. Hired­ hands are unlikely to demonstrate the same commitment to the research as yourself! Interviewer bias has long been recognized as a potential problem for this style of research.

34 Face-to-face interviews
Firstly, the attitudes and opinions of the interviewer may affect the replies to certain questions. Secondly, it is possible for the interviewer to misrepresent the respondent or the interviewee to misunderstand the question. Thirdly, the ethnic origin, religion, age and social class of the interviewer or interviewee can introduce bias. Fourthly, the interviewer can influence replies to questions by changing the tone of voice or facial expression, by promotion or putting answers into the respondent's mouth.

35 Face-to-face interviews
However, many of these problems can be avoided if adequate training is given to the interviewer and by providing appropriate instructions on the interview schedule. Finally, you should not put yourself in a difficult or dangerous situation. Do not be afraid of terminating the interview prematurely if the situation becomes threatening. In certain circumstances it may be preferable to interview in pairs

36 Interviewing tips Practice the interview beforehand.
Prepare a standard introduction explaining the purpose of the questionnaire and ensuring confidentiality. Make sure you have an identity card and a covering letter if appropriate. Make sure you have sufficient questionnaires, pens, etc. Dress appropriately.

37 Interviewing tips Inform the participant how long it will take- be pessimistic. Treat respondents with care. Do not appear judgmental about the responses - be careful about your body language too. Follow the schedule and instructions systematically and closely. You should not interview children without the permission of their parents. Always thank the respondents for participating.

38 Postal surveys Distributing questionnaires by post is a kind of self-administered survey, since respondents complete the questionnaire on their own. The postal survey is relatively inexpensive, not very time-consuming and often a highly effective and quick means of reaching a specific sample. The self-completion questionnaire has the advantage that it may be completed in privacy, but the likelihood of misunderstandings and incomplete questionnaires is increased.

39 Postal surveys Nonetheless, the techniques lack one important ingredient- that of the interviewer. Consequently, instructions are of paramount importance in postal surveys since there are no opportunities to clarify inconsistent responses. Filling in a questionnaire is inevitably not as rewarding as the 'social exchange' which takes place between interviewer and interviewee. Therefore the incentive to respond to a postal survey is less than face-to-face interviews.

40 Postal surveys This makes the organization and layout of the questionnaire all the more important; questions should be clear, well spaced-out and the design should be simple. Instructions should be clear, unambiguous, bold and attractively displayed. Completing the questionnaire should be seen as a learning process. Initial questions should be simple but with a high interest value to encourage participation.

41 Postal surveys The middle section should contain the more difficult questions. The last few questions should also have high interest value to encourage completion. Respondents should be encouraged to check through their responses and be thanked. It is now common practice to offer an incentive to encourage a response to this kind of survey. Whether this secures a higher response rate is debatable; certainly the results obtained by this author suggests the effects are highly variable.

42 Tips for postal questionnaires
Make sure that the questionnaire has been pre tested and piloted. Make sure the questionnaire is 'professionally' presented. Consider pre-notifying the participants. Construct an informative but brief covering letter - include a contact address or telephone number.

43 Tips for postal questionnaires
Ensure that you include a post-paid envelope for the return. Prepare and implement a reminder as responses begin to wane. Consider sending a second reminder and questionnaire to boost the response rate.

44 Postal surveys In mailing a questionnaire it is useful to use good quality envelopes with a typed name and address, using first class postage and a stamped addressed envelope for the reply. If people fail to respond then a follow-up letter may be productive, stressing the importance and indicating disappointment, giving the impression that non-response is normal. A further copy of the questionnaire and a stamped addressed envelope should be enclosed.

45 Postal surveys You should monitor the response rate during the period of the survey by counting the number of responses per day. Responses peak in the first few days after the survey was posted and then begin to tail off. You should plan your follow-up to coincide with this tailing–off period.

46 Postal surveys In a well-planned postal questionnaire an initial response rate can be about 40 %, with this rising to 60 % after an initial follow-up and 70 % after a second follow-up; with the law of diminishing returns setting in thereafter. As it is the best the response rate is usually between 70 and 80 % and frequently much lower; indeed response rates of between 30 and 40 % are common.

47 Postal surveys Postal questionnaires have a number of further disadvantages. You can never be sure that the right person filled in the questionnaire. Since many participants will examine the questionnaire before responding, answers will not be spontaneous and may not be independent .

48 Postal surveys A person is unlikely to admit to not having voted at the last election when they have previously specified that voting is the duty of every responsible citizen. The format is clearly limiting - questions must be simple as there is no opportunity to probe further. However it remains a useful research instrument in competent hands!

49 Telephone surveys The telephone survey is an alternative survey method, albeit one with a bad reputation. Generally they have the advantages of being cheap, the physical appearance of the interviewer does not matter and the potential sample size is huge (since most people have access to a telephone). However, the response rate can be low and it is only suited to a small number of questions; certainly the interview should last no longer than 15 minutes!

50 End of Chapter Slides

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