4. Concepts

What are concepts and why are they crucial to survey design?

Concepts are the vague and inchoate ideas that comprise theories in various fields of study. They are crucial to survey design because they are the primary ideas that researchers aim to measure and to study.

What is meant by the phrase ‘descending the ladder of abstraction’?

To translate vague and inchoate concepts into precise statistics through survey questions.

Why is it important to clarify concepts?

So as to know precisely what is needed to be measured in a survey making the data collected from the survey valid and reliable. Having a clear concept will inform the statistics and estimates derived from the survey.

What are the stages in clarifying a concept?

Review the various literatures on the concept, consider the purpose and context of the various studies that entail the concept, discern various dimensions of the concept, adopt or derive a conceptual definition of the concept of interest.

Concepts identified for measurement in surveys are often found to differ in definition. Why is there so much difference between how concepts are defined and measured?

This situation is reflective of the competing and overlapping purposes and contexts of survey research. Different fields or perspectives may have different approaches to definition through theory. Research may be interested in the same concept but have very different ways of precisely defining it leading to different statistics and estimates.

What are the different research contexts relating to concept clarification and why are these differences important?

Government or public policy, industry, and academic research. They are important because they can have different aims and needs associated with research on the same concept that lead to wide ranging differences between estimates and statistics.

What is in dispute in case study 4 and what were the consequences to the research of the dispute?

The clarification and definition of the concept ‘false memory’. Much higher increases in the estimates of those considered to experience false memories from the majority of established research.