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Political ResearchMethods and Practical Skills

Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills (3rd edn)

Sandra Halperin and Oliver Heath
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date: 22 April 2024

p. 28411. Surveyslocked

p. 28411. Surveyslocked

  • Sandra HalperinSandra HalperinProfessor of International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London
  •  and Oliver HeathOliver HeathProfessor of Politics, Royal Holloway, University of London


This chapter discusses the principles of survey research as well as the issues and problems associated with different stages of the research design process. In particular, it examines questionnaire design, sample design, and interviewing techniques, along with the common sources of error that affect survey research and what can be done to try and avoid or minimize them. Although surveys have several weaknesses, they are widely used in political research to investigate a wide range of political phenomena. They combine two things: obtaining information from people by asking questions and random sampling. When done well, surveys provide an accurate and reliable insight into what ordinary people think about politics and how they participate in politics. The chapter considers the elements of a survey that need to be addressed, namely: questionnaire design, measurement error, sampling design, sampling error, and interview mode.

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