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.
Chapter 6: Survey Pretesting
Varying from just a handful of cases to samples in the hundreds or thousands, survey pretests and pilot surveys are designed to detect and remedy problematic questions before data collection. Large pretests and pilot surveys are just surveys with a methodological purpose, subject to conventional data analysis. Due to considerations of the cost and time, but also because they are thought to be sufficient, small and inexpensive pretests are the norm. Pretesting is not primarily exploratory, the idea is to improve existing questions, rather than to develop new measures of a concept or decide between alternative questions.
Survey pretests also have the mundane but important purpose of quality assurance. Even a short questionnaire offers many opportunities for error, both in the original draft and ...