How to Conduct Self-Administered and Mail Surveys / Edition 2

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How do you decide whether a self-administered questionnaire is appropriate for your research question? This book provides readers with an answer to this question while giving them all the basic tools needed for conducting a self-administered or mail survey. Updated to include data from the 2000 Census, the authors show how to develop questions and format a user-friendly questionnaire; pretest, pilot test, and revise questionnaires; and write advance and cover letters that help motivate and increase response rates. They describe how to track and time follow-ups to non-respondents; estimate personnel requirements; and determine the costs of a self-administered or mailed survey. They also demonstrate how to process, edit, and code questionnaires; keep records; fully document how the questionnaire was developed and administered; and how the data collected is related to the questionnaire. New to this edition is expanded coverage on Web-based questionnaires, and literacy and language issues.

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Editorial Reviews

Peter Hernon
"The authors discuss self-administered questionnaires, the content and format of the questionnaire, "user-friendly" questionnaires and response categories, and survey implementation. They offer excellent checklists for deciding whether or not to use a mail questionnaire, for constructing questions and response categories, for minimizing bias, for writing questionnaire specifications, for formatting and finalizing questionnaires, and for motivating respondents and writing cover letters."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761925620
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 10/22/2002
  • Series: Survey Kit Series
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda Bourque, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences and an associate director of both the Center for Public Health and Disasters and the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center in the UCLA School of Public Health. Trained as a sociologist, she teaches courses on research design with an emphasis on the design, data processing, and data analysis of questionnaires and community-based surveys. Her research during the last twenty years has focused on community response to disasters. A public website contains all of the raw data, codebooks, questionnaires, publications and related material from surveys conducted on California earthquakes since 1971 by Leo Reeder, Ralph Turner, Dennis Mileti and Linda Bourque. Current research includes the National Survey of Disaster Experiences and Preparedness (NSDEP), and the California Survey of Earthquake Preparedness.

Funded by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Science Foundation, NSDEP examines the factors that predict disaster preparedness and risk avoidant behavior, with an emphasis on terrorism. A stratified sample of 3,300 households was selected using random digit dialing: 1,000 households were selected for interview in areas considered at high risk of terrorism (Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles County), and 2,300 households were selected for interview throughout the rest of the continental United States. Respondents were asked whether they had invested in six preparedness behaviors and seven risk avoidant behaviors either because of terrorism, natural disasters, other reasons, or any combination of the three. NSDEP reports and other documentation are available here.

Eve Picardy Fielder died on Oct. 27 at home in Venice, CA, after a long illness. She was 67. An academic researcher, she received her doctorate in public health from UCLA, where she was the director of the Survey Research Center. Many of the hundreds of survey research projects she managed focused on public policies related to social issues and service delivery in the areas of health and welfare. She also conducted research of her own on issues of relevance to the Hispanic/Latino communities

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii
How to Conduct Self-Administered and Mail Surveys: Learning Objectives xv
1. Overview of Self-Administered Questionnaires 1
Types of Self-Administered Questionnaires 2
Supervised Administration 3
One-to-One Supervision 3
Group Administration 4
Semisupervised Administration 6
Unsupervised Administration 7
Advantages of Self-Administered Questionnaires 9
Cost 9
Sample Related 10
Geographic Coverage 10
Larger Samples 11
Wider Coverage Within a Sample Population 11
Implementation 12
Timing 12
Sensitive Topics 13
Disadvantages of Self-Administered Questionnaires 14
Sample Related 14
Availability of Lists 14
Response Rates 14
Literacy and Language 15
Questionnaire Construction 16
Objective 16
Format 16
Order Effects 18
Administration 19
No Control Over Who Responds 19
Quick Turnaround 20
Self-Administered Questionnaires by Example: Assault and Vision Studies 21
2. Content of the Questionnaire 23
Information Included in Questionnaires and Deciding Whether a Mail Questionnaire Is Appropriate 23
Literacy 24
Motivation 25
Amenable to Study 26
Checklist: Deciding Whether to Use a Mail Questionnaire 30
Developing the Content of the Questionnaire 31
Adopting Standard Questionnaire Batteries 32
Adapting Sets of Questions 36
Designing Your Own Questions 39
Guidelines for Deciding on the Content of the Questionnaire 39
3. "User-Friendly" Questionnaires and Response Categories 41
Construction of Questions 42
Short-and-Specific Format 42
Cautionary Use of Vague Qualifiers 46
Cautionary Use of Abstract Terms and Jargon 47
Easy-to-Difficult Progression 50
Logical Order 55
Demographic Questions Placement 55
Checklist for Constructing Questions 58
Open- Versus Closed-Ended Questions 59
Construction of Response Categories 60
Easily Used Categories 61
Mutually Exclusive Categories 64
Multiple Answers 65
Residual "Other" 67
Checklist for Constructing Response Categories 70
Clear and Sufficient Instructions 70
General 71
Transitional 73
Question Answering 73
Checklist for Writing Instructions 74
Projecting the Surveyor's Ideas Onto the Respondents 75
Checklist for Minimizing Bias 78
Pretesting, Pilot-Testing, and Revising Questionnaires 79
Pretests 79
Pilot Tests 80
Value of Pretests and Pilot Tests 88
Checklist for Conducting Pretests and Pilot Tests 90
4. Format of the Questionnaire 93
Length 94
Vertical Format 95
Grids 98
Spacing 98
Print and Paper 99
Consistency 100
Splitting Questions Between Pages 101
Checklist for Formatting Questionnaires 102
Coordinating With Data Entry Personnel and Data Processors 103
Ending the Questionnaire 104
Camera-Ready Copy 104
Checklist for Finalizing the Questionnaire 105
Correspondence and the Motivation of Respondents 105
Use of Letterhead 107
Information About Sponsorship 108
Dates 108
Salutation 109
Purpose of the Study 109
Reasons Why an Individual's Participation Is Important 110
Incentives to Encourage Respondent Participation 111
Monetary or Material Incentives 112
Other Forms of Motivation 113
Use of Advance Letters 114
How Material Incentives Will Be Provided or Distributed 114
Realistic Estimate of the Time Required to Complete the Questionnaire 115
How and Why the Respondent Was Chosen 117
Explanation of Confidentiality and How the Data Will Be Handled 118
Provision of a Name and Phone Number to Call for Information 119
When and How to Return the Questionnaire 120
Checklist for Motivating Respondents and Writing Cover Letters 121
Writing Questionnaire Specifications 122
Objective of the Study 123
Selection and Tracking of the Sample 124
Timing of Administration 126
Instructions for Administering Questions 126
Questions Raised by Respondents 128
Source and Reason for Questions 130
Checklist for Writing Questionnaire Specifications 132
5. Implementation 135
Developing and Producing the Sample 136
Sample Availability 138
Selecting the Sample 140
Addressing the Mailing 141
Planning the Sample File 142
Ethics and Responsibilities 144
Sample Size 145
Other Factors Affecting Response Rates 148
Components of the Field or Mailing Packet 149
Group Administration Packet Checklist 149
Mailing Packet Checklist 150
Follow-Up Procedures 150
Type, Number, and Timing of Follow-Ups 152
Content of the Follow-Up Reminder 156
Follow-Up Procedure Guidelines 159
Sample Tracking 159
Sample Tracking Procedure Guidelines 162
Processing Returns 163
Sample Status Reports 163
Data Reduction 164
Estimating Costs 165
Outgoing Postage 166
Incoming Postage 168
Optional Mailings 169
Printed and Stock Materials 169
Personnel Requirements 172
Exercises 181
Answers 199
Suggested Readings 213
About the Authors 223
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