The survey technique is widely used as a research procedure since it allows obtaining and preparing data quickly and efficiently. In the health field, the investigations carried out using this technique are very numerous, as is demonstrated in the 294 articles found in the Medline Express database, with the survey descriptor, for the years 1997-2000. Of these, in the years 1999 and 2000, 72 investigations have been published covering a wide variety of topics: general health surveys, on specific health topics, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, drug use, hygiene habits, eating habits, user satisfaction with health services, satisfaction of health personnel, etc. This may offer an idea of the importance of this research procedure that has, among other advantages, the possibility of massive applications and obtaining information on a wide range of issues at the same time.
According to experts from the best essay writing service the objective of the survey is to familiarize the reader with this research technique, briefly describing the steps that must be followed in conducting a survey, focusing primarily on the elaboration of its basic instrument, the questionnaire. Due to space limitations, the subject will be treated in two parts. In this first one, the preliminary aspects of the investigation and the design of the questionnaire will be treated, and in the second part, the aspects related to the fieldwork and statistical analysis of the data will be analyzed.
What is Survey Technique and where it is used?
Observation by survey also consists of obtaining data of sociological interest through interrogation of members of society, is the most important and most used sociological research procedure. Among its features, the following can be highlighted:
- The information is obtained through an indirect observation of the facts, through the statements made by the respondents, so it is possible that the information obtained does not always reflect reality.
- The survey allows massive applications, which through appropriate sampling techniques can extend the results to entire communities.
- The researcher’s interest is not the specific subject that answers the questionnaire, but the population to which it belongs; hence, as mentioned, the need to use appropriate sampling techniques.
- It allows obtaining data on a wide variety of topics.
- The information is collected in a standardized way by means of a questionnaire (equal instructions for all subjects, identical formulation of the questions, etc.), which makes it possible to make intragroup comparisons.
In the planning of an investigation using the survey technique, the following stages 4 can be established:
- Identification of the problem.
- Research design determination.
- Specification of the hypotheses.
- Definition of the variables.
- Sample selection.
- Questionnaire design.
- Organization of fieldwork.
- Collection and processing of data.
- Data analysis and interpretation of the results.
As already mentioned, the fundamental objective of this work is the elaboration of the questionnaire; however, it is considered that, even briefly, the basic aspects that constitute an investigation using the survey technique should be described.
Research: An Identification of the problem
The first step involves starting from a clear and precise definition of the object of interest of the researcher, establishing the general and specific objectives pursued with the investigation, and conducting a review of the various theoretical contributions that already exist on the subject.
Experts from best essay writing service suggest that In some cases, there will be abundant information and bibliography about the object of study, but there will be others in which there is little knowledge, either about the problem posed, either about the population, or both. In these circumstances, in addition to reviewing related issues, qualitative techniques will have to be used to gather the information that cannot be obtained by other means.
Research Design Determination
At this point, the researcher should consider the general planning of the work based on the problem being studied and the purposes of the investigation. Thus, depending on the objectives pursued, the human, material and economic resources, the time available, the availability of the sample (s), etc., it will be decided what type of study is appropriate.
Very briefly, research methods can be classified into three main groups: experimental analytical, observational or correlational analytical and descriptive 7-9. In the experimental analytical method, the researcher can exercise direct control over the independent variables to check what effects they produce on the dependents and, therefore, determine the causal relationship that exists between them.
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In the case of observational analytical studies, the variables of interest are selected to know the relationship between them, taking advantage of their presence or absence in carefully selected groups of subjects, so that control over the variables identified by the researcher is possible. Descriptive studies are usually carried out in the first steps of an investigation; with them, it is intended to detect regularities in the phenomena under study, describe associations between variables and generate hypotheses that can be contrasted in subsequent studies, without establishing cause-effect relationships. Different data collection techniques can be used in each of these methods.
Experts from best essay writing service recommend that the survey technique can be used both in the so-called observational and descriptive-analytical methods. As far as the temporal dimension is concerned, the designs can be transversal or longitudinal. In the first case, the cross-sectional design, also called sectional or prevalence, aims to estimate the frequency of some phenomenon of interest at a given time.
The objective is generally to establish differences between the different groups that make up the population or sample and the study of the relationships of the most important variables. The feature that characterizes them is the type of sampling used since a certain number of individuals from a population are randomly selected without knowing which of them present the phenomenon under study. Transversal designs have the advantage that they can be carried out in a short period and are cheaper than other types of studies,
In longitudinal studies, which can be both descriptive and observational analytical, observations are made over certain periods of time to appreciate possible changes in the behavior of the subjects. Longitudinal designs can be prospective and retrospective.
In the prospective longitudinal designs, several measures are taken over a certain period in order to observe the evolution of a phenomenon in the population of interest to the researcher, being the beginning of the study prior to the facts studied, which are collected as they happen. In the retrospective longitudinal studies, a dependent variable is studied and the influence on it may have had factors whose occurrence is prior to the time of the study.
The design is, then, subsequent to the facts studied and, therefore, it is common to resort to pre-existing databases (such as labor records of large companies, medical records, etc.). The survey technique can be used in both longitudinal and transverse designs.
Importance of Hypothesis in a research
A hypothesis is an unproven statement or proposition about a phenomenon that is intended to be explained. In survey research there three levels in hypothesis formulation:
- The first is the establishment of the general hypotheses chosen as probable answers to the question investigated.
- A second level would establish the sub-hypotheses that develop and express the different aspects considered.
- At the third level, the first and fundamental steps for the preparation of the questionnaire questions would already be taken. The fact that in each of the questions included in the questionnaire underlies a hypothesis guarantees its meaning and usefulness. Even if the possible answers involve several categories, these should also be based on hypotheses.
Definition of the variables and their importance in research
The appropriate definition of the variables (quantities whose values are the object of study) allows the object of the investigation to be operationalized and made measurable. In the case of the survey technique, determining the information points in a precise way will allow to develop the appropriate questions for the questionnaire.
The specification of the hypotheses and the variables of interest constitute basic points of information that will be used to prepare a guide to the questionnaire, which is usually used as guidance for the writing of the questionnaire.
At this point, it will be necessary to decide if observations are going to be made on all the subjects that make up the population under study or if they will be limited to a sample. Except in the case of very small populations, the usual thing will be to work with samples for reasons of time, cost and complexity in the collection and analysis of the data. The suitability of the selected sample will depend on its representativeness, that is, on its ability to reproduce the same characteristics of the population from which it comes; If the sample is not representative of the population, it is said to be biased.
So far, we have concluded that research is a primary goal and survey is one way of achieving that goal. During the research we can have a variety of options and survey questioner is one of these options which can lead us to successful research.