Researching Political Participation Using Survey Data


This case study focuses on the survey research that I conducted for my PhD, which investigated political participation in the United Kingdom. I make some general observations about understanding your approach to research and focusing on your priorities before considering the survey design, fieldwork, and analysis stages of the process. In the first of those, I emphasize the need to familiarize yourself with relevant literature before drafting your survey, to draw on established sources of survey questions, and to test and review your survey, especially using cognitive interviews. In relation to fieldwork, I outline my final surveys and the practicalities of fielding them before discussing the issue of representativeness as it relates to surveys conducted online using non-random quota sampling. Finally, in the “Analysis” section, I emphasize the time taken by data processing (not to be underestimated) and the need to look for simple solutions to the problems that you encounter, starting by choosing the simplest analytic technique that is appropriate. Perhaps I had to go through all the parts of that process to be able to make the observations in this case study, but I hope that they help you identify useful practices, avoid pitfalls, and conduct rewarding survey research.

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