• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine the problems some sociologists find when using postal questionnaires in their research.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Examine the problems some sociologists find when using postal questionnaires in their research. Sociologists face various problems when postal questionnaires are used in their research. These problems centre on the nature of questionnaires, which can be defined as structured documents containing questions that provide the data a sociologist requires to draw conclusions from a study. These problems can be attributed to the researcher (for example, poorly worded questions) or the answerer (dishonest/incomplete responses etc.). Postal questionnaires are typically employed by Positivists in a macro sociological investigation. Postal questionnaires usually return a lot of results. Positivists favour this means of data collection because it can be easily distributed to thousands of people. The problem of low response rates is negated by the number of questionnaires a sociologist can send out: once written, the documents can be easily delivered to a multitude of addresses, and therefore provide the researcher with a considerable amount of data. ...read more.

Middle

They claim that questionnaires are usually posted to gather information on a relatively uncontroversial topic, and that results are compared to information collected via other means of research. They recognise advantages of postal questionnaires over other approaches, too. Positivists claim that postal questionnaires remove the intimidating aspect of interviews and participant observation by guaranteeing the respondent anonymity; as a result, answers might be more truthful, and, in particular, sociologists can ask personal or sensitive questions which would otherwise be inappropriate or tarnished by false answers from embarrassed or unsettled participants. Other factors determining the usefulness and accuracy of postal questionnaires include time, funding and response rates. Questionnaires are relatively cheap and easily distributed; however, sociologists must secure funding and find time to put together a well-structured, objective and clear document. Poorly constructed postal questionnaires could be off putting to possible answerers, and the inclusion of leading questions could bring into question the legitimacy of ...read more.

Conclusion

In this sense, postal questionnaires are ideal for positivists focusing on the 'bigger picture'. In conclusion, I believe postal questionnaires are a useful means of collecting information. They are cheap and, potentially, can return a large number of results over a short period of time. However, the quality of results depends almost entirely on the structure and content of the questionnaire, and the data often provides researchers with undetailed conclusions lacking any real depth or validity. In my opinion, the extent to which Presults are distorted by deliberately misleading or inadvertently inaccurate/poorly formed answers or opinions depends largely on the subjects of the study, and, as such, each questionnaire is specific to the individuals whom receive and return the questionnaire. Overall, I think postal questionnaires offer a means of data collection which is, generally, effective in gathering enough information to quickly determine the basic nature of an issue or topic, usually highlighting the most basic and fundamental patterns in society, which offer a sturdy structure or foundation for further investigation. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Miscellaneous section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Miscellaneous essays

  1. Examine problems faced by sociologists when using secondary sources in their research.

    However, they tend to offer insight into the subjective state of individuals and 'ordinary, ambiguous personal meanings' (Plummer,1982). Plummer notes that, as a result of their honesty and subjectivity, life documents usually avoid the pitfall of 'abstract theory' which can underestimate the importance of 'active human beings'.

  2. An Investigation Homosexuality-Nature or Nuture?

    However the question to be asked was were the sexual practices the cause of the different sizes, not the other way round? Twin studies have also been used to prove the biological argument. Ernest Kallman conducted the first twin study, finding 100% concordance with monozygotic (identical)

  1. Problem Solution: Foundation Schools

    If Foundation Schools is going to thrive, it will call for preserving the same level of conviction that made it victorious in the first place. Each member of the team must be engaged and work to bring about the same goal.

  2. Discuss research into the explanation of the function of sleep

    Stern & Morgane believe during REM sleep neurotransmitter levels are replenished supporting the idea of restorative sleep backed up by anti depressants increasing neurotransmitter levels, reducing REM activity. The main difference between Oswald and Horne concerns the proposed functions of slow wave sleep as total sleep deprivation produces few obvious

  1. Media in society

    Write a short essay of approx 800 words which explores the mass media in society. In your discussion you will need to cover the following points: i. A definition of the term media, together with examples, ii. A discussion of the role of the media in modern society with detailed examples of specific texts.

  2. Promoting Inclusion

    I found that not only was this method inclusive but kept the children interested in the lesson as there were many little tasks involved using VAK learning techniques to help the children stay focused and ensure that they understood what the aim of the task was.

  1. Communication in todays society

    Therefore longitudinal and crosswise communications are extremely important. This requires their effectiveness on communication. As Barrett (2005:p.3) points out that: "effective leadership depends on effective communication. It is through effective communication that leaders guide, direct, motivate and inspire. Without effective communication, a manager accomplishes little. Without effective communication, a manager is not an effective leader." Moreover, Walters (2007)

  2. Fire investigation; the triangle shirtwaist factory fire trial

    Investigation of Liquid Combustion Introduction In this experiment, we will find out why some liquids burn at certain temperatures. Risk assessment Due to the fact that we are dealing with fire, long hair must be tried back goggles warn and lab coats on.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work