Surveys in Social Research

Surveys in Social Research

Surveys in Social Research

Surveys in Social Research


This work provides advice on how to plan, conduct and analyze social surveys. It emphasizes the links between theory and research, the logic and interpretation of statistics, and the practices of social research.


This fifth edition of Surveys in Social Research is a major revision of the previous editions. Nearly every chapter has been rewritten and includes substantial new sections. The book appears to have met a need among those teaching, studying and undertaking social surveys. I am most grateful for the support and feedback I have received from readers over the years. When I wrote the first edition in 1984 I used a pen and paper: personal computers were not widely available. The internet was a barely accessible resource for specialists in universities, computer-assisted telephone interviewing was still a novelty and the widespread availability of all types of software with easy to use graphical interfaces was unimaginable.

In just one and a half decades the variety and power of the tools and resources available to assist the survey researcher have improved and expanded in ways that have transformed the way in which we go about doing surveys. Most survey researchers have access to very powerful personal computers and software. The software and the hardware are so much easier to use and more powerful and there is so much software to choose from for so many purposes (statistical analysis, graphics, simulations, calculators, spreadsheets, database packages, questionnaire design software, questionnaire administration software etc). Access to wonderful data bases from data archives, downloading of evaluation software from the internet, web-based questionnaires, email surveys, descriptions of analysis methods online and free online textbooks have presented so many new possibilities for the way in which survey research can be taught and practised.

While the resources and possibilities have expanded so dramatically our capacity to learn about them, to find out about them and to make use of them has not kept pace. This is hardly surprising as the volume of new developments is overwhelming.

One of the reasons for revising this book so much is to take advantage of these developments and to guide readers and instructors in their use of these resources. Throughout the text I have provided web pointers which supply web addresses (URLs) for sites you can visit. These point to software sites from which excellent software can be downloaded or used online. You will find sites where you can develop and administer surveys via the internet. Other sites provide online references that expand on the points I make in the book, while some provide simulation software that enable you to experiment and see what happens with statistical results under particular conditions. These web links also take you closer to the real world of research. You will see, online, copies of major questionnaires and codebooks. You can conduct analysis of these data sets online. You can look up the standard coding systems

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