Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Questionnaires and Surveys
Questionnaires and surveys are important research tools for quantitative empirical study. In the attempt to describe and explain relationships within legal systems and society, sociolegal scholars have sometimes sought relatively precise and systematic measurement of concepts and variables, at a level of analysis for which surveys are particularly useful. Although not as common a device in law and society research as many other methods, both have been important for testing empirical propositions, backstopping qualitative research, and collecting unique data from dispersed populations and the general public. Questionnaires and surveys encompass a range of research practices, but at the core is the use of a formal set of closed-ended questions to elicit quantitative data from a defined group of individuals or institutions. Though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, one important distinction lies between written surveys that an individual self-administers and returns by mail, computer, or the Internet and oral ...