Methodology is concern with both the detail research methods through with data is collected, and the more general philosophies upon which the collection and analysis of data are based. In methodology there are two types of research methods in which researchers can depend on when researching. These are “Quantitative” and “Qualitative” research. Quantitative research deals with a term which August Comte came up with, “Positivism.” This quantitative research deals with more scientific research than based on theory, it focuses on scientific methods of study.
Despite the considerable influence of the ‘scientific’ approaches to sociological methodology, an alternative series of interpretive or qualitative approaches has long existed within sociology. Qualitative research often collects subjective data such as information about people’s emotions, feelings and values and also isn’t structure like quantitative research. Between both the ‘Quantitative and Qualitative research’, quantitative uses questionnaire to gather data. A questionnaire is a number of preset questions that can contain open-ended, fixed choice or combination of both types of questions. In this essay it would be shown that questionnaires cannot be used to capture the truth about people’s behaviour, but to an extent.
In questionnaire research the same questions are usually given to respondents in the same order so that the same information can be collected from every member of the sample. There are many methods on how to distribute questionnaires. The first method would be the postal questionnaire, as the name suggests it is mailed to the respondents with a stamped address envelope for return to the researcher. Postal questionnaires are rather inexpensive, time consuming and has little less than fifty percent (50%) of the questionnaires posted back.
This would seriously bias the researcher research, since there may be systematic differences between those who returned questionnaires than those who did not. For example, the main response to a postal questionnaire on marital relationships might come from those experiencing marital problems and wish to air their grievance. If non-respondents were happily married, the researcher would be unjustified in making generalizations about married life on the basis of the return questionnaires. Therefore the researcher would not be able to analyse the questions clearly and would not be able to analyse properly the married couples who are happy, sad, frustrated or even devoice, because of the lack of questionnaires missing from married couples.
Apart from the first method, the second method has a far higher return rate than the postal. This is because it is to administer the questionnaire to a group such as a class of students or workers at a union meeting. This method is less expensive and maintains the advantage of the presence of an interviewer. However, the interviewer must ensure that the respondents do not discuss anything while doing the questionnaire, due to the researcher would like the respondent own view and not from the help of others. This would therefore give the researcher an image towards how the respondent expresses themselves towards the questions within the questionnaire.
The first two (2) methods that were stated above both used questionnaires mainly the first through postal and the second has an interviewer present at the time the questionnaires were given out. This method in the other hand is done through the telephone. This is mostly used in conducting of market research for companies, but it is not usually regarded satisfactory by sociologist. According to (Aldridge and Levine, 2001), it is hard to establish rapport in such interviews, disadvantage groups tend to be under-represented in samples, it is difficult to ask sensitive questions, respondents cannot be expected to remember a wide range of possible answers to fixed-choice questions, and visual aids cannot be used. This may make the respondent very uncomfortable and due to that they would not be willing to cooperate and answer the telephone questionnaire. Therefore this may make it very hard on the researcher due to he or she would not be able to gain a proper response from the respondent.
The fourth possibility is to administer questionnaires by e-mail. According to (Geoff Payne and Judy Payne, 2004), this may be a useful way of conducting dispersed groups of people, or those who might not wish to be questioned face-to-face. For example, it has been used in a study of people who committed self-harm. Although this method has its advantages, it also has its disadvantages. A problem of this is that genuine anonymity is difficult to assure since it is possible to track the source of an emailed response.
Another big problem may be that the sample is restricted to those with access to computers and may therefore be unrepresentative, although the significance of this will diminish as the number of people without email and internet fails. This therefore would be a problem to the researcher because he or she may not be able to interpret the behaviour of the respondent towards the questionnaire and also the respondent may not take on the research seriously. These things hinder the researcher from collecting data towards his or her research.
There are many reasons towards why questionnaires are inappropriate to capture the behaviour of people. But there are one or two reasons that could help the research in that, but only up to an extent. The second method that was stated can be of use in this by the interviewer watching every one’s reaction towards the questionnaire. This can determine the respondent answer by the feedback he or she gave during reading the questions.
In conclusion, questionnaires can be used to capture people’s behaviour but to an extent. Yet it have been shown in this essay that you cannot simply capture someone behaviour with the use of questionnaires. It is due because the respondent can lie during the questionnaire or even the researcher would not get back a proper feedback to determine the respondent answer. In the end it has been shown that questionnaires cannot capture peoples’ behaviour.
Courtney from Study Moose
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