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Survey and Interview Methods in Social Sciences Thesis

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Updated: May 11th, 2019


In statistical research, we use sampling on many occasions. It would be hard to engage a whole population in a study because of the costs and time associated with such a census. However, in many a sample, there is the possibility of errors. Statistically, these errors result in bias. We also infer results by using methods such as hypothesis testing and estimation, which may not be entirely true in the entire population.

In the case of Auburn, specifically at a station, this is not an all in-inclusive sample to help us make a conclusion. This is because there are problems of communication and many immigrants may be unwilling to offer information. This may result in untrue data.


There are two major types of surveys used in collecting data for a given study. They are cross-sectional and longitudinal survey. In cross- sectional surveys, the aim of the researcher is to get a snapshot of views and thoughts from a different variety of respondents.

Just like other surveys, the cross-sectional surveys gathers information from a sample representative of the whole population according to Hay (2010) However, the sample is cross sectional in terms of age, gender and socioeconomic background.

It also involves collecting information at one point in time. In longitudinal surveys, we gather information at different points in time to study change. The major aim of this kind of survey is to compare differences in practices and opinions of the population over a given period (Hay 2010).


Interviewing is a method of collecting data from human beings by asking them questions for which they answer verbally. It is a systematized way of talking and listening to people in order to get information regarding a particular topic or phenomena.

In interviews, the respondent provides the primary data for the study and the views of the researcher are not important as most of the information comes from the respondent. The respondents are able to give their conceptualizations and interpretation regarding the topic under study (Hay 2010).

Reasons for Using Interviews and Surveys

Interviews have many advantages. They include the following.

More Information

They allow for probing, follow up, and it is possible to get in depth information on a topic. They also have many disadvantages, which include consumption of time and very expensive administration. It is not possible with a large number of people as they are very axing and take a lot of time to complete.

The chances of the interviewer bias are high especially in closed-ended interviews. Analysis of data may be take a lot of time, especially data from open ended interviews and respondents may not remember important information or may lack self awareness (Ragin 2005).

In this study, the sample of the study will be the immigrants who live in the Auburn suburbs. These will be the interviewees to get the data required to carry out this study. However, the interviews will take place in three areas within the Auburn suburb. These areas are the Auburn council, people from two different organizations, which offer different services to the immigrants.

Equal Chance of Selection

There is a random selection of people to involve in the study. This will ensure that every member of the population under study has an equal opportunity of selection. Hence, a well representative sample. Issuance of questionnaires to the participants will follow. Each questionnaire will have five questions each seeking to get different information related to the study.

The researcher will issue forty questionnaires to the participants between ten and four at the Auburn train station. Each questionnaire will take approximately ten minutes to complete (Holliday 2007). In this case, however, there is less representation of immigrant population. This is true because our area of focus does not have all immigrants proportionate to the entire population in the country.


Throughout this study, the researcher will ensure utmost confidentiality of the participants. All information gathered during this study will also be treated with a lot of confidentiality. No names or any other information that can be used for identification will appear on any of the materials that will be used during the interview. Each respondent will be given an identification number that will be used in all interview materials.

Tape recorders will also be used to record the information. They will however be destroyed after they have been transcribed and analyzed to ensure that nobody else apart from the researcher accesses the information in them. The information from the interviews will be emailed to the organizations in Auburn from where they will be used for research purposes only (Creswell 2003 and Ragin 2005).

Advantages of Surveys

Survey as a method of collecting research information has many advantages. It, for example, saves a lot of time and money conducting the research since only a few samples is studied. They are also easy to deal with. Moreover, they are free from many errors since they are the same all through. According to Holliday (2000), however, there are also difficulties experienced in administering surveys or disadvantages.

They include the information given by respondents may not be accurate or truthful. In most cases, the respondents’ sincerity, ability to answer plays an important role in determining the type of answers that a researcher gets. Some of the respondents may give answers that are not true to portray themselves in a favorable manner thus making them inaccurate. Poorly constructed surveys can lead to faulty results.

In close-ended questionnaires, the choices given may not be an accurate representation of the true feelings of the respondent. The initial study design does not change throughout the entire study thus making surveys inflexible and for the results to be reliable, the researcher must make sure that a great percentage of the study sample responds to the questions, which is quite hard (Holliday 2007).


Use of interview may bring about statistical bias. This is because some people may not use trains. In addition, some may have their own cars, use private means to get home or to work. This means I will miss a huge chunk of the target population. It is important to reduce the chance of bias in any research to ensure probity and to sustain the confidence interval chosen.

Other Methods

As mentioned earlier, sampling survey and interviews are the best ways to conduct a research in the situation we have here. However, many other methods can come in handy. This includes

Observation– the researcher just looks and makes individual collections of what is happening. This is just ideal for a situation where personal information may not be necessary.

Generalizing- in the case a researcher just makes random conclusions about the population without carrying out a study. This is suicidal because it may arrive at an untested hypothesis.

Secondary Information– the researcher may opt to rely on information already available to him in the previous similar studies done. This is not a good source of information because the circumstances may have been different from what we have now, which may render our information unusable.

Systematic learning and observation is another way of arriving at considerable data. This way the researcher examines trends and behaviors of the target population with a view at getting and analyzing data.

Reference List

Creswell, J. (2003) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Method Approach. Journal of Management, Vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 8-10.

Hay, I. (2010) Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography. London: Oxford University Press.

Holliday, A. (2007) Doing and Writing Qualitative Research. Journal of Geography, Vol. 65, no. 2, pp. 14-16.

Ragin, C. (2005) Constructing Social Research: The Unity and Diversity. Bulletin of Sociological Methodologies, Vol. 23, no. 9, pp. 4-5.

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