Chapter 9: Surveys, Action Research and Historical Research

Quizzes give you the chance to test your knowledge through multiple choice questions, short answers, matching activities and other revision tools.

1. Explain the difference between a descriptive and an explanatory (analytical) survey.


The descriptive survey aims to describe as accurately as possible the situation as it is, whilst an explanatory survey aims to establish cause and effect relationships or associations between variables without the use of experimental manipulation. 

2. List four methods of data collection that can be used in surveys.


Questionnaire, interviews, focus groups, observation, diaries

3. List five advantages or strengths of surveys.


  • Can be used to research a wide range of topics. 
  • Efficient, cost effective and relatively economical to carry out.
  • Can collect data from a wide geographical area (particularly if postal questionnaires or telephone interviews are used).
  • An extensive amount of data can be generated.
  • In comparison to some other research methods surveys have fewer ethical implications.
  • If the sample is representative of the population, survey findings can be generalised to the total population, promoting internal and external validity.
  • Multiple methods of data collection can be used
  • Can be replicated.

4. List three weaknesses or imitations associated with surveys


  • Internal and external validity is influenced by the sampling strategy used.
  • Surveys tend to be used to collect exclusively quantitative data. Some regard this as a limitation.
  • It is difficult to assess validity and reliability without access to the data collection tool.
  • Surveys are often carried out without adequate planning / design.
  • May yield low response rates

5. By what others names may action research be known?


Participatory, collaborative or emancipatory research

6. Whose work on change theory and group dynamics is said to have provided the foundation for action research as a research method?


Kurt Lewin

7. What are the four stages of action research?


  • Assessment of the nature and extent of the problem
  • An intervention or change is identified by the group to address the problem
  • The intervention or change is implemented
  • The impact of the intervention or change is evaluated

8. In the context of historical research, which of the following are primary sources?


Diaries, biographies, birth registers, poetry, ‘Notes on Nursing’ by Florence Nightingale, patient notes, minutes of meetings, narrative accounts, newspaper reports, photographs, tombstones, Census, ‘David Copperfield’ by Charles Dickens, ‘Testament of Youth’ by Vera Brittan

Diaries, birth registers, photographs, Census, tombstones, minutes of meetings, patient notes, ‘Notes on Nursing’ by Florence Nightingale, ‘Testament of Youth’ by Vera Brittan.