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Updated to include the use of digital and online technology in survey research. The bibliography has also been updated.

Updated on 3 September 2013. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 19 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Surveys have always been a popular social work research method. They are particularly applicable for portraying population characteristics on the basis of a sample. Two key methodological issues influencing the value of any survey are the representativeness of its respondents and the reliability and validity of its measures. Surveys can be administered by mail, online, or in face-to-face or telephone interviews. Each modality has advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, which method to use will often depend on the purpose of the research, the nature of the research question, and feasibility considerations.

Keywords: surveys, social survey movement, sampling, mailed surveys, online surveys, interview surveys, Pittsburgh Survey, nonresponse bias

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