3. Survey design and the research process

How are the research process and survey design process related?

The survey design process is related to the research process through being a key research method through which data is collected to answer research questions identified as a part of the research process.

What is the relevance of topics to survey design?

Topics are the broad areas of research that a survey designer will investigate and work on to refine in preparation for researching via a survey. Topics are the entry point to survey design and contain theories and perspectives. Studies associated with them entail various methodological approaches reflecting the research on them to a point in time.

How and why do researchers refine topics into discreet research questions?

Researchers must refine topics to make research projects manageable and doable. Given how broad a topic is, a researcher will need to identify and select specific aspects of a topic from a field or perspective. A researcher will approach a topic and then ask themselves a series of related questions about what they really want to know about a topic and then refine the topic into a series of discreet and precise research questions.

Why is theory considered to be important to survey design?

Theory is important to survey design because theories are central to any academic discipline to explain why or something occurs. Theories are composed of concepts, ideas, and propositions that can be measured to substantiate or question a theory.

What are the kinds of research questions best suited to research using survey design and why?

Descriptive, relational/explanatory, and causal/associative/correlative questions. These questions are best suited to survey design because they are most appropriate to the logic of survey data.

What is the relational logic between variables in survey research and how is it related to research questions and theories?

In assessing a relationship between variables, the relational logic between variables in survey research is as one variable (independent variable) increases or decreases or is differentiated across its categories, so too will a dependent variable increase or decrease or be differentiated across its categories. This relationship will reflect what is proposed in a theory and be represented by research questions.

What are the different forms of research design and how are surveys used in them?

Experimental/evaluative, cross-section, longitudinal, case study. Surveys are used in these designs in similar ways but the aims of the surveys may be different in each case, especially for an evaluative survey that will be focused on a particular aim.