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Research questionnaires Essay

The ways in which the experiments presented above differ is in regard to the setting in which they are conducted. Some are laboratory experiments that take place in a setting created by researchers, and others such as field experiments are conducted in a participants natural setting. Additional ways for communication researchers to conduct there studies would be research questionnaires which ask participants to write their answers to questions researchers pose and panel studies which are surveys in which responses from the same people are obtained to learn how their beliefs, attitudes, and/or behaviors change. There are particular strengths and weaknesses of each type of experiment done.

Panel studies for instance allow, “researchers to be more confident about attributing patterns of cause in effect in survey data,” (Dominick 415) and they are more reliable. Another strength of the panel study is the benefit of, “longitudinal observation of the individual through time,” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panel_study), and the compilation of information at a nice pace makes the withdraw inaccuracies condensed. On the weakness side of these studies, panel members cannot be replaced, so panel studies are threatened by participant morality which means that there are potential problems due to the loss of respondents. Such a substantial loss of respondents can compromise the results of the study. Other weaknesses include that, “panel … {studies} are expensive to conduct, are sensitive to attrition and take a long time to generate useful data,” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panel_study).

Another way communication researcher’s conduct a study is by using a questionnaire. Researchers using questionnaires communicate via written messages and usually do not converse with respondents. There are many strength’s of questionnaires; one would be that they are not very expensive. This type of research reaches large audiences and allows them to respond at their convenience. They require fewer personnel and can be administered consistently by different researchers, since the same written form, asking the same questions, may be used in exactly the same way time after time. Questionnaires minimize potential influence of outside events as all people receive questionnaires at the same time. They also increase respondent’s anonymity and increase accuracy of data because respondents record their own data. Nevertheless, such unvarying replies might aggravate researchers. Questionnaires are also restricted by the fact that respondents are required to read the questions and respond to them. Therefore, for some demographic groups, conducting a survey by questionnaire may not be realistic.

An additional way for communication researchers to conduct investigating is by laboratory experiments. A laboratory setting allows researchers to, “Manipulate independent variables,” (Hocking 206-207), easily, randomly assign research participants to conditions, control for the effects of unrelated influences, and measure participant’s behavior cleanly, especially there communication behavior. Laboratory experiments help researchers conduct highly controlled full experiments. Lab experiments “are useful because they help establish causality,” (Dominick 416). Laboratory experiments allow researchers to exercise high control, but often, “they can minimize external validity,” (Hocking 204), because participants may respond differently in laboratories than in natural settings.

The last communication tool researcher’s use is field experiments. Field experiments cannot randomly assign research participants to conditions or manipulate variables as can a laboratory experiment. But they can conduct full experiments. This means that that communication researchers can conduct there experiment in a natural setting, “which maximizes external validity,” (Hocking 206). Field experiments can also establish causality as do laboratory experiments.

Wrapping up, the quality of experimental research is determined not by where it takes place, but the amount of control researcher’s exercise. Whether laboratory, field, panel or questionnaires, communication researchers, “exercise high control when they are able to manipulate independent variables,” (Hocking 211), randomly assign participants to create equivalent conditions and control for the effects of extraneous influences.

Bibliography

Dominick, Joseph R. The Dynamics of Mass Communication. 9th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2005. 393-437.

Hocking, John E., John W. Stacks, and Steven T. McDermott. Communication Research. 3rd Ed. New York: Allyn & Bacon, 2002. 200-215.

“Panel Study.” Wikipedia.Org. Aug. 2006. 30 Dec. 2006 .


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