As you read in Chapter 1, research designed to assess and answer questions about the current state of affairs is descriptive research.

As you read in Chapter 1, research designed to assess and answer questions about the current state of affairs is descriptive research. It is called descriptive research because no variables are manipulated (as you would find in an experimental research design). Rather, the goal of descriptive research is to provide a snapshot of thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors of groups of people at a given time. One common type of descriptive research is survey research. A survey is a type of self-report measure that can be administered either through an interview or written questionnaire.

Interviews are surveys in which researchers read questions to participants either in person or by telephone. The questions are either structured or unstructured. When using a structured interview technique, the researcher predetermines the questions to ask participants and records their responses. An example of a structured interview technique is a phone call during the evening at home requesting a “few minutes of your time” to ask your opinions about candidates in an upcoming political election. In an unstructured interview, the researcher asks the respondents to talk freely about a particular topic and records their answers. An example of an unstructured interview technique is a focus group setting, wherein a number of people meet at the same time to share their thoughts and opinions about a particular topic, such as their emotional reactions to viewing advertising campaigns.

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Questionnaires are different from interviews because participants complete these assessments on their own, and usually without supervision. The other difference is that participants complete questionnaires in a fixed-format. This means participants answer questions in the exact same order and select their answers from various response choices provided (e.g., multiple choice or true/false) rather than freely reporting what comes to mind. An example of a questionnaire is a poll located in a magazine questioning you about your present satisfaction in your romantic relationship.

Consider the last time you were asked to complete a survey either by interview or questionnaire. Did you participate? Why, or why not? Though survey methods are a good way to collect a lot of data quickly, participants are not always eager to take the time and effort required to complete them. For this Assignment, you select a particular survey method to collect data on a study idea. You analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the method and consider strategies for increasing participant response rates.

To prepare

  • Review again the assigned pages from Chapter 6 and Chapter 8 of your course text.
  • Think about the study idea that you developed for the Discussion this week.
  • Think about what types of data you would collect utilizing various survey methods (e.g., interviews and questionnaires, focus groups).
  • Consider strategies researchers use to attempt to increase the participant response rates of surveys. Also, consider surveys and questionnaires that you have received in the past and your reasons for responding or not responding.

The Assignment: (1–2 pages)

  • For context, briefly provide the topic and study idea you developed for the Discussion this week (fewer than 50 words).
  • Propose a survey method for collecting data (e.g., a structured or nonstructured interview, a focus group, questionnaires) and your rationale for selecting this method as it relates to your specific study idea.
  • Explain one advantage and one potential disadvantage of the survey method you proposed as it relates to your specific study idea.
  • Explain at least one strategy that you could use to attempt to get individuals to respond to your proposed survey method.

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