A Companion to Survey Research provides a critical overview and guide to survey methods. Rather than a set of formulas, survey design is understood as a craft where the translation of research questions into a questionnaire, sample design and data collection strategy is based on understanding how respondents answer questions and their willingness to complete a survey.

Following an account of the invention of survey research in the 1930s, a synthesis of research on question design is followed by a practical guide to designing a questionnaire. Chapters on sampling, which deal with the statistical basis of survey sampling and practical design issues, are followed by extensive discussions of survey pretesting and data collection. The book concludes with a discussion of the extent and implications of falling response rates.

This book is written for researchers, analysts and policy makers who want to understand the survey data they use, for researchers and students who want to conduct a survey, and for anyone who wants to understand contemporary survey research.

The Invention of Survey Research

Survey research has roots in centuries of census taking, intelligence and psychological testing beginning in the late nineteenth century, research on attitudes from the 1920s, and ‘social surveys’ of the conditions of the urban poor, pioneered in England by Charles Booth in the 1880s and Joseph Rowntree in the 1890s, and extended to many other countries in the first third of the twentieth century (Bulmer et al., 1991). Modern surveys did not evolve directly from these ancestors, however. Instead, aspiring to represent entire populations, to ask questions on almost any topic, to gather data in a timely manner, and to yield quantitative results, surveys developed out of the public opinion polls initiated in the mid-1930s by American market researchers, notably ...

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