Thursday, 25 November 2010


From our study, we have come to the conclusion that questionnaires have advantages over many types of surveys because they are cheap and can easily target groups of interest in many ways and they can be used to target a large audience in a wide geographical area. No matter which approach is chosen to collect data, it is impossible to get hundred percent response rates. All types of surveys have advantages and disadvantages; in some of them, the researchers have more control over the situation; for example the respondents can be influenced or get clues from interviewers to respond in certain ways.
Finally, we can conclude that questionnaires are the most commonly used in research because they can be applied in many different areas; for example, education, science, health care surveys and so on; whereas interviews can be too expensive, difficult to arrange and time consuming to be applied in a large geographical area.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Reliability and validity of qualitative and quantitative data in surveys

This section will focus on the definition and the methods of evaluating reliability and validity in survey research.

Reliability and validity is a major issue when it comes to research, indeed failure to assure the validity and/or reliability of the findings may cause the research to be questioned even worse rejected as invalid.

Reliability refers to consistency and/or repeatability of the measurement; in other words, consistency can relate here to the questionnaires being clear and well define in order to not confuse the respondents and repeatability here means that if searchers have findings from a group they should be able to repeat the survey and get exactly the same results.


There are several ways to measure survey research consistency;

Qualitative research:

Consistency may be measured by using triangulation; this will be done using multi sources of information for example by taking different information from three different investigator or just by combining more than one methods of data collection in the same research; interview and survey and so on. This will actually fructify and increase consistency of the research and therefore reliability as well. The advantages from this approach are that is time consuming, expensive and request lots of effort.

Quantitative research:

Consistency could be measure by using one or more following strategies:

  • Inter-Rater or Inter-Observer Reliability
  • Test-Retest Reliability
  • Parallel-Forms Reliability
  • Internal Consistency Reliability

This will also result the findings to be reliable.

Validity refers to the degree to which the measurement procedure actually measures the concept that it is intended to measure.

Validity research has several ways to be obtained:

  • Face validity
  • Content validity
  • Predictive validity
  • Concurrent validity

The picture below shows us the relativity between reliability and validity; it gives us a well descriptive view of the relationship between reliability and validity.

As the picture shows, there are four possibilities, first possibility the measure can be reliable but not valid, second one the measure may be valid but not reliable, the third one is the worst case where the measure are neither reliable and not valid as well however the last measure is a perfect case where we have both reliability and validity.

To conclude from the picture, we noticed that reliability and validity have related ideas however one can work without the other one, or both at the same time.


William M.K. Trochim. (2006). Types of Reliability. Available: . Last accessed 18th Nov 2010.

Adri Labuschagne. (2003). Qualitative Research - Airy Fairy or Fundamental?. Available: . Last accessed 18th nov 2010.

Celia Taylor, Graham R. Gibbs and Ann Lewins. (2005). Quality of qualitative analysis. Available: . Last accessed 18th nov 2010.

William M.K. Trochim. (2006). Reliability & Validity. Available: . Last accessed 18th Nov 2010.

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Surveys: Obtaining Qualitative and Quantitative Data

What is a survey?

“Survey is a data collection tool used to gather information about individuals. Surveys are commonly used in psychology research to collect self-report data from study participants. A survey may focus on factual information about individuals, or it might aim to collect the opinions of the survey takers. ”

Surveys can be carried out in 2 ways:

Questionnaires: (group/ mail/ drop off)

Searchers give the questionnaires to the candidates who fill it out and then he collects and analyse it.

Interviews: (personal/ phone)

One on one, searcher asks questionnaires to the candidate himself.

Surveys like all other data collection have its advantages and disadvantages. The major noticeable advantages of surveys are time saver as surveys allow to collect a large amount of data in short time, they are less expensive than most of the other type of data collection and they allowed to collect data on wide range of things however surveys are not perfect they also have disadvantages for example accuracy, the response given may not reflect the reality therefore not accurate, and there is no way to know if the participants are reliable.

In the next two sections we will have a closer look on how surveys can use qualitative data (e.g. ask open-ended questions) or quantitative data (e.g. use forced-choice questions) measures however the type of survey to be carried out depends on the target population and the subject under investigation.

Surveys: Obtaining Quantitative Data:

This section is about survey data collection from a quantitative perspective. Quantitative data measurement must be objective, quantitative and statistically valid we can summarise by just saying that quantitative data is about numbers, objective hard data. There are many structures techniques of obtaining quantitative data such as online questionnaires, on-street or telephone interviews.

Researchers must be precise about their questionnaires as the quality of the data from quantitative research is directly dependent on that. The objectives of quantitative data are to quantify data and generalize results from a sample to the population of interest and also to measure the incidence of various views and opinions in a chosen sample.

The advantages of qualitative data, its methods usually provide quantifiable, reliable data and generalisable to the larger number of population of interest. They can also be represented visually in tables, graphs, charts or histograms.

However there are some weaknesses as well among other things closed question which can be answered with “yes or no”, a single word or a short phrase.

The quantitative data research can be used to determine the scale of satisfied customers for example by disturbing a questionnaire sample to customers (questionnaires are usually easy and quick to answer) and analyse the answers and scale them with 4 or 5 point scales from Very Satisfied, Satisfied, (Neither), Dissatisfied, Very Dissatisfied of course there is more behind that to really determine the satisfaction of customers.

Usually after a quantitative data research searchers often use qualitative research to explore further the findings from quantitative data which are “yes or no” or just a word.

Example of forced-choice (closed ended) questions:

Are you happy with your current ASDA local store?
1/Very satisfied


3/ Dissatisfied

4/Very dissatisfied

Do they give you the entire product that you need?



Surveys: Obtaining Qualitative Data:

This section is about collecting qualitative data in surveys. Qualitative data is non-statistical therefore it is usually difficult to graph or display in mathematical terms and contrary to quantitative data, qualitative data is much more subjective and has very different methods of collecting information such as open-ended questions, depth interviews, or structured focus groups discussions, qualitative data is exploratory and open-ended, more narrative, words.

Interviewers questions are generally vague, they ask the participants open-ended questions which request thinking and reflection thus they are able to express themselves and with their own words and idea, give their opinions, their feelings and perceptions on a particularly topic which might be sensible accordingly their answers as well. For that reason interviewers must be cautious about the ethical and confidentiality issues because open-ended questions involve personal and honest responses. The interviewers must keep the participants’ identity confidential and protected.

Qualitative data can be gained questioning customers, citizens or students (look questions below), or by immersion in a culture (ethnography) in this case the interviewers will probably have to deal with the ethical issues. In quantitative data, the interviewers/ researchers become the instrument of data collection that may have consequences and vary the results depending on who is conducting the research, as consequence the result may be considered as invalid therefore to valid as accurate, the interviewers or researchers must then compare his findings information with similar information from other surveys.

Examples of open-ended questions: (who/ what/ where/ when/ why/ how)

What did you fail on your course?

How do you keep focused on your course?

What are the good things and the less good things about your course?


Kendra Cherry. (2010). What Is a Survey?. Available: Last accessed 11/11/2010.

Ira Kerns. (2003). Quantitative & Qualitative Research. Available: Last accessed 11/11/2010.

Nedra Kline Weinreich. (2006). Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Methods in Social Marketing Research. Available: Last accessed 11/11/2010.

unknown. (2010). Qualitative research. Available: Last accessed 11/11/2010.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Environment of surveys

     Today in the business world companies do not only want to satisfy the needs of the customers, they would like to be better then the other competitors. Selling the good old, but still successful products is not the best goal in the future of the businesses. They are different things what the company assumes the customers need and what they really need. Information about the customers, their habits, their financial behavior set against their particular demographic, these key points are extremely valuable data for companies or other researching institutions. In this part of our group blog I am going to investigate the environment of surveys.

Surveys can be conducted through different types of mediums such as telephone, mail, face to face or on many other Internet platforms. The method of data collection depends on the information to be collected and on the budget. The most successful survey is gathering information from people from the same interest groups thus it would be more likely that the collected data is valid. It is also very important to to define the aim of the survey which means that surveys can be made for business, educational, non- profit or scientific purposes. For instance in business sector the application of phone surveys are more common than in education area.

The following list describes the methods of surveys including their use, advantages and drawbacks.

E-mail survey: (Commonly used in all areas) 


  •  Fast results 
  •  Easy to modify 
  •  Data sets are created in real time 
  •  Inexpensive in most cases 
  •  Large sample size 


  • Honesty of responses can be an issue 
  • If not password protected, easy to manipulate by completing multiple times. 
Telephone: (mainly businesses) 


  • Higher response rate
  • Good for large sampling frames 
  • Higher validity of answer 


  • More time consuming
  • Might be expensive (international surveys) 
  • Might be annoying to the subjects to be contacted on phone 

Online survey: (used by all areas) 


  • Very fast results
  • Easy to modify
  • Used in large scale of industries 
  • Cheap and very efficient
  • Easy to target certain interest groups (i.e Facebook) 
  • Easy to process the data
  • Large sample size 


  • Difficult to validate the gathered data
  • Subject might not give complete/ honest answers
  • Not suitable for people who do not use computers 

Face to face interviews: 


  • Face to face communication- more honest answers
  • Subject are more likely to give more accurate and detailed answers (qualitative data) 


  • Some people do not like to talk about personal information (prefer to write)
  • Time consuming 
  • Expensive 
  • Smaller sample size 

Organisations and scientific institutions have to consider these aspects before they decide about the method of surveys and they also have to find the balance between cheap and quality research.

Conducting the surveys still has ambiguities that need to be handled or solved. Would there be a more efficient and cheaper method? How can technology help to develop surveys?

At this stage the only limit is the technology and the knowledge of subjects about technology…


Statistical survey

Advantages and disadvantages of Questionnaires

Advantages of Questionnaires
Questionnaires may be a “cost effective way” of obtaining data from a large audience; for example, from large numbers of population. Questionnaires need to be properly planned in order to get data of high quality that can be used for analysis.
 Participants may not like to be identified for having taken part in research; therefore, questionnaires can be an effective tool to gather information from respondents, who do not like to be identified. Participants may be honesty when giving answers if they know that they would not be identified. Most respondents who take part in questionnaires would know what information is being asked about them.
Questionnaires can be designed to target a certain “audience even if they are geographically spread.” Depending on the design of questionnaires, the data collected may be either quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative data is in numerical form and can be used to find answers about a particular problem such as: customers’ perceptions about certain products, feelings about services being offered by “Call Centres”, and so on. Another good thing about questionnaires is that they “reduce bias.”
Effective questionnaires may be designed in such a way that the questions are “short and focussed” and have at least less than “12 words” (Marshall, 2004, p. 132).
Disadvantages of Questionnaires
There may be problems with questionnaires; for example, respondents may not understand the questions and therefore, give answers that, they may not have given if they had understood the question. The researcher may not know whether the questionnaire was completed by the targeted audience or not; for example, if the research is about “Goal-line Technology”, the respondent may not be a football fun and therefore, may give an answer which may not be given by a football fun.
Obtaining Quantitative data
Useful quantitative data may be obtained by sending or distributing questionnaires with closed questions that offer respondents choose answers but does not give them an alternative way of expressing their views in writing. A respondent would be offered to choose an answer from a given list of answers. For example, respondents may be asked how many times they have boarded a train to London in a period of 12 months. The answers may look like this; never, 1-5 times, not sure, and so on.
Obtaining Qualitative data
Qualitative data may be obtained by using open questions. The questions are designed in such a way that the respondents would put down their answers in words such as: their views, feelings, opinions, suggestions and so on; in response to a question being asked.
Marshall, G., in Radiography (2005) 11, 131e136:
The purpose, design and administration of a questionnaire for data collection. Retrieved November 17, 2010, from
 Webb, J. (200). Questionnaires and their design: The Marketing Review, 2000, 1, 197-218. Retrieved November 17, 2010, from


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Questionnaires: Obtaining Quantitative/Qualitative data

Questionnaires: Obtaining Quantitative/Qualitative data
Questionnaires are a most convenient and inexpensive way of gathering information from people and could be used to cover a large geographical area. They could be used to either gather quantitative or qualitative data and they are also a better way of reducing interviewer bias because there are “no verbal or visual clues” that could influence a participant (respondent) to answer in a certain way. Questionnaires could be sent through post to a large number of people in different geographical areas. However, some participants may send the questionnaires back while others may not respond.
The objectives of the study could be achieved if Questionnaires are well defined and well designed; so that they could achieve the intended purpose of the study being conducted.
Qualitative Method
Qualitative questionnaires could be used to gather facts about people’s beliefs, feelings, experiences in certain jobs, service offered, activities and so on. The questionnaire is designed in such a way that participants have freedom to express their views in response to the question asked without any influence or clues from the interviewer.
The questions are open ended to allow the respondents to write either positive or negative responses based on the type of questions. The data gathered in this way is helpful if the researchers seek to understand how people feel about certain issues; for example: experiences in using certain products, feelings about service offered by surgeries, hospitals, and restaurant and so on. This type of research method could be useful for companies who seek to understand the experiences and feelings of consumers who use certain products. Responses from the participants could influence the company to change strategies in designing certain products quickly to suit the needs of consumers.
 However, this type of research method may not be helpful if the researchers are interested in quantifying and confirming hypotheses about certain occurrences. The good thing about Qualitative questionnaires is that they are flexible and could be worded in different ways to allow participants to give responses in their own words compared to a “yes or no.”
Quantitative Method
Quantitative questionnaires are a best way to gather numerical data that could be used to confirm hypotheses about occurrences.  Closed ended questions are used in this type of method and are assigned numerical values for the responded to choose from; such as allowing participants to choose their age groups. Then, the respondents choose answers from the given list and have no chance to express their views or opinions about the questions. For example, participants could be asked to rank their feelings based on the given scale; for example, a scale of 1 to 5; 1 being poor and 5 being best. The results are then analysed and placed in graphs, bar charts and so on.
How could we make sure that questionnaires are well understood by respondents?
The key thing about questionnaires is that they should be simple and written in a well understood language; for example, direct language. Otherwise, researchers would not get the information they would be looking for.
Robson, C. (2002). Real World Research (2nd). UK: Blackwell Publishing
DJS Research. Qualitative Research. Retrieved November 10, 2010, from  
Walonick, D., S. (1993). Everything you need to know about Questionnaires. Retrieved November 10, 2010, from   

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


This project focuses on the framework of surveys and questionnaires as important tools for gathering data that is related to the area of the research. In this research, we are going to investigate the main areas where surveys and questionnaires are applied; and also the key differences between these two methods of research. The aim of these tools depends on the area of focus, for example the aim of research in business is usually the need for change in the system in order to increase efficiency and effectiveness; and therefore, they can attract more customers.

It would be advisable before any researcher to think about the way questionnaires and surveys are designed before starting to conduct a research project. Robson (2002) suggested that objectives of the study can be achieved if questionnaires are well defined and designed, short and less than 12 words; for example if the respondent does not understand the question, the answer can be different from the one they would have given if they had understood the questionnaire. We agree with Robson’s views about the design of questionnaires because getting the respondents to understand the questions is crucial for obtaining the right information related to the study.

In this blog we are going to be focusing on areas such as questionnaires, quantitative and qualitative data, environment of surveys and questionnaires, etc.