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You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.
(Daniel Patrick Moynihan)
(The most complete and up-to-date version of the document describing the survey research assessment framework is available on this site).
Traditionally, the assessment of survey research has been more of an art than a science. Every researcher uses their own criteria and put more or less emphasis on various aspects of the research. This occurs in the literature when one author comments on the weight of the evidence brought to bear on a competing or supporting point. It also takes place when clients assess the value to give survey evidence they commissioned or that is used in support of a business decision. It happens during one's self-examination of a research report to ensure that all elements of the required proof are offered.
However, the depth of examination of research evidence is nowhere more profound than when survey research is used in the judicial system. In this instance, two or more parties have every reason to either accept or reject the evidence; all parties tend to emphasize only the areas of the proposed evidence which support their position. Meanwhile, the courts and the quasi-judicial bodies need to be able to rely on a proven approach to assessing survey research so as to ensure that no important component of the research is left unexamined.
The experience of Circum's president, Benoît Gauthier, with the judicial system as a survey expert has motivated the development of a framework to assess survey evidence. It has also been used as a self-assessment tool, as a checklist to confirm the quality and completeness of the research. As a matter of course, Circum Network survey-related work abides by the principles and criteria defined in this framework for quality survey research.
The assessment framework is structured around the six building blocks of survey research, on the one hand, and on four fundamental principles of assessment on the other hand. They are listed below, along with a brief definition.
As is the case with Generally Accepted Principles of Sound Management (from which the structure of this survey research quality assessment framework is borrowed), the survey quality criteria are produced by the combination of the fundamental principles with the components of survey research. This combination produces a 6 x 4 matrix. Therefore, our survey quality framework offers criteria in areas such as the rigour of the sampling, the neutrality of data collection, the balance of data management and the transparency of reporting. As of May 2001, the 24-cell assessment matrix contained 58 quality criteria ranging from the absence of bias in the questionnaire to the avoidance of excessive weighting. The most recent complete (to date) description of the assessment framework is available on this site.
Even armed with such a systematic quality assurance tool, research analysts must still exercise a healthy dose of judgment in the assessment of survey research. However, the use of a full disclosed and exhaustive analysis tool will help discipline the assessment of survey research as well as improve the confidence that the survey researcher himself/herself has that their research is really up to standards.
To reach us:
General address : firstname.lastname@example.org
Benoît Gauthier : email@example.com, @BGauthierCEEQ
Tel. : +1 819 775-2620, Fax : (no more fax; sorry)
238 Fleming Road, Cantley, Québec J8V 3B4