The Good Research Guide for Small-Scale Social Research Projects

By Martyn Denscombe | Go to book overview

1

Surveys
In one sense, the word 'survey' means 'to view comprehensively and in detail'. In another sense it refers specifically to the act of 'obtaining data for mapping'. These aspects of the definition of a survey, of course, derive from the classic versions of geographical surveys and ordnance surveys which map out the landscape or the built environment of roads and buildings. The principles, though, have been used to good effect on mapping out the social world as well as the physical world and, indeed, surveys have emerged in recent times as one of the most popular and commonplace approaches to social research. Such social surveys share with their physical counterparts some crucial characteristics.
Wide and inclusive coverage. Implicit in the notion of 'survey' is the idea that the research should have a wide coverage – a breadth of view. A survey, in principle, should take a panoramic view and 'take it all in'.
At a specific point in time. The purpose of mapping surveys is generally to 'bring things up to date', and so it is with the notion of social surveys. Surveys usually relate to the present state of affairs and involve an attempt to provide a snapshot of how things are at the specific time at which the data are collected. Though there might be occasions when researchers will wish to do a retrospective study to show how things used to be, these remain more an exception than the rule.
Empirical research. In the sense that 'to survey' carries with it the meaning 'to look', survey work inevitably brings with it the idea of empirical research. It involves the idea of getting out of the chair, going out of the office and purposefully seeking the necessary information 'out there'. The researcher who adopts a survey approach tends to buy in to a tradition of research which emphasizes the quest for details of tangible things – things that can be measured and recorded.

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The Good Research Guide for Small-Scale Social Research Projects
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures vi
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Strategies for Social Research 3
  • 1: Surveys 6
  • 2: Case Studies 30
  • 3: Internet Research 41
  • 4: Experiments 61
  • 5: Action Research 73
  • 6: Ethnography 84
  • 7: Phenomenology 96
  • 8: Grounded Theory 109
  • Part II - Methods of Social Research 131
  • 9: Questionnaires 144
  • 10: Interviews 163
  • 11: Observation 192
  • 12: Documents 212
  • Part III - Analysis 231
  • 13: Quantitative Data 236
  • 14: Qualitative Data 267
  • 15: Writing Up the Research 284
  • Frequently Asked Questions 299
  • References 302
  • Index 307
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