Chapter 8: Data Collection: Surveys – Observations – Non-reactive Procedures
Wolfgang Meyer The main tasks of an evaluation include procuring the information necessary for a fair assessment in the most objective and scientific way possible. In practice this task is not easy to fulfil in view of meagre resources and the high demands made on specialized knowledge in the field of empirical social research. Moreover, the problems of data collection are often underestimated by laymen, because asking and observing are everyday activities and this suggests that these experiences can be transposed simply on to conducting social science studies. The sections that follow contain a brief, practical overview of the most common procedures and basics of social scientific data collection and the problems which can occur, although a comprehensive presentation of the individual procedures cannot be given here for lack of space. The treatment of errors in particular is neither introduced nor discussed in the amount of detail which would normally be necessary. For this reason the reader is referred here and now to the relevant specialist literature for a more detailed treatment of the subject (particularly suitable as an introduction to the subject are Alasuutari et al. 2008; Bortz & Döring 2002; Bryman 2004; Diekmann 1995; Neuman 2005; Schnell et al. 1999). The emphasis in this chapter is on a brief overview of the data collection procedures and the specific problems associated with them (section 8.1) and an introduction to the problems relating to the selection of investigation units (section 8.2). The survey, as the best known way of gathering...
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