survey says

21 04 2008

  Recently, while writing a paper for an LIS class on research methodologies I ran into a bit of a wall.  The instructions were to pick a population and propose some methods I would make use of in studying this group.  I chose to use a survey, of the paper questionnaire type, the brief interview and the intensive interview.  The paper stipulated that we must defend our choices, attempt to predict what ethical issues might arise due to these as well as predict what other kinds of problems might arise due to our choices.  We were also to list EVERY other method and explain why we did not use these methods.

  Here is the wall -> 5 pages MAX. 

  I was up to 9 pages while just defending and accounting for problems that might arise with the paper survey.  I still had two more methods to defend and a profusion of methods to defend my choice not to use. 

  The survey has a lot of built in problems that, if not accounted for, could ruin the data accumulated.  This is taught in intro soc, psych and anthro class I’ve taken.  You have leading questions, “Isn’t it easier to X than Y?” & double barrel questions, “Using a computer & my own skill set is enough for me to find the item I’m looking for.”  You also have the threatening question area, a set of questions that deals with things that are illegal, conter-normative or personal.  I felt, and still feel, that these issues needed to be addressed to properly justify and defend my survey. 

  The above points do not even cover the benefits of survey v other methods.  Surveys are a less costly way to accumulate data, you get more respondents than with other types.  Each of these requires an explaination as well.  I am tired of my incessant whining but, seriously, a five page paper?  Am I not in grad school?  Didn’t I just read about 200 pages in the units this paper is covering?  Isn’t that a ratio of 20:1?  Isn’t that a lot of condensing (condensation)?

  In the words of Loverboy, “turn me loose.”