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Assess the Usefulness of Questionnaires as a Method of Sociological Research

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Assess the usefulness of questionnaires as a method of sociological research

For the sociological positivist researcher undertaking any form of research the methods and techniques which are applied in the research should most preferably exhibit certain crucial features of quantitative research. The research should be quantitative in nature and it should exhibit objective results that involve numbers and statistics. The research must be replicable under the control of the researcher they should meet the needs of the criteria for reliability. This is to say that that a method of collecting data is reliable, which means that any other researchers using this method on another occasion will produce the same findings. (Haralambos and Holborn, 1995)

Positivists tend to emphasise that official documentation and the statistics are the most reliable resources for example, the Census is a demographic survey of the whole population it was first conducted in 1801 and is repeated every 10 years this survey is commonly used for research, business, marketing and planning. The census enables the government to plan ahead (e.g. for education and health). The General Life Style Survey, formally known as the General Household Survey is a multi purpose and continuous survey carried out by the office of national statistics. Others such as the crime (e.g. British crime survey) and health statistics are the outcome of social processes that can be studied in their own right. (Mc Neill and Townley 1981)

Ain considering the usefulness of the questionnaire a list of original pre set questions and the primary research tool in a list of sociological research. The essence of a good questionnaire is to ask the right questions so it will help uncover the correct information for the researcher in as clear and simple a manner as possible. Pilot studies are used as a trial run in which a representative group of respondents complete a questionnaire. Any difficulties can then be ironed out before the main survey is done. They provide a wide range of data on which the researcher can generalise. Questionnaires are very useful for reaching a widely dispersed group of people over a wide geographical area and they are inexpensive. Explaining questionnaires as a quantitative method from a macro study also in this type of environment people may reply to rather embarrassing questions that they would not answer in an interview. Further to this all respondents are subject to the same stimuli thus differences in answers should reflect real differences in the opinions of the population. (Roberts K, 2009)

Statistics about crime and delinquency are probably the least reliable of all officially published figures on social issues. (BCS) is conducted by means of interviews in respondent's homes these are known as victimization studies and whilst they are valuable indicators of crime the data from victimization studies must


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