Orientation Observation In-depth interviews Document analysis and semiology Conversation and discourse analysis Secondary Data Surveys Experiments Ethics Research outcomes



Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2020

Page updated 29 April, 2020

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2020, Researching the Real World, available at
All rights belong to author.


A Guide to Methodology

8. Surveys

8.1 Introduction to surveys
8.2 Methodological approaches
8.3 Doing survey research

8.3.1 Aims and purpose
8.3.2 Background to the research
8.3.3 Feasibility
8.3.4 Hypotheses
8.3.5 Operationalisation
8.3.6 How will data be collected and what are the key relationships
8.3.7 Designing the research instrument
8.3.8 Pilot survey
8.3.9 Sampling
8.3.10 Questionnaire distribution and interviewing
8.3.11 Coding data
8.3.12.Response rate

8.4 Statistical analysis
8.5 Summary and conclusion

Activity 8.3.3

8.3.3 Feasibility
Once you have decided on your broad aim you have to further focus your project into something that is manageable, given your time and resources (see Section 1.14.1). Researchers, especially those new to research, are often overambitious and try to cover everything that they find interesting. It is much better to complete a small-scale, specific study than to abandon a large-scale, unfocused study.

Activity 8.3.3
Outline a feasible research project based on your aim in Activity 8.3.1. Indicate who you intend to ask, and state why. Outline what kinds of things you are trying to find out.

Although you are gradually narrowing the research down into something you could manage, it is still likely to be too vague.

The next two stages, constructing research hypotheses and operationalising concepts, closely define the kinds of relationships that are being investigated and the way in which concepts are to be measured. They are the crucial stages in defining the exact nature of the research because it is through them that the research aim gets put into practice. The validity of the survey depends on these stages.

Next 8.3.4 Hypotheses