Singleton/Straits, Approaches to Social Research 6e Student Resources

1. General References on Surveys for Consumers

Polling Fundamentals (

This tutorial prepared by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research outlines the fundamentals of public opinion polling by providing “definitions, examples, and explanations that serve as an introduction to the field of public opinion research.”

How Polls Are Conducted (

An excerpt from the book Where America Stands, this essay provides an overview of how the Gallup Organization conducts public opinion telephone surveys.  Gallup poll editors describe the selection of a random sample, the selection of respondents within households, question wording, conducting interviews, and interpreting the results.

20 Questions a Journalist Should Ask about Poll Results (

Designed to help working journalists who are covering polls, this site identifies questions to ask the pollster before reporting any results.

2. General References on Conducting Surveys for Survey Researchers

SurveyMonkeyTM (

For small-scale Internet surveys, SurveyMonkeyTM offers a free tool to create and send a survey instrument to a sample of respondents. Note, however, that the free account is limited to a maximum of 10 questions and 100 respondents.

Steps in Designing a Survey Project (

This chapter from The Survey System’s Tutorial, which is intended primarily for those who are new to survey research, discusses options and provides suggestions on how to design and conduct a successful survey. The chapter outlines the steps in conducting a survey and lists advantages and disadvantages of the various survey modes, among other topics.

Survey Design Tutorial (

A free tutorial from StatPac Inc., this site offers brief but informative guides that address several design issues, including time and cost considerations, cover letters, incentives, and nonresponse bias.

What Is a Survey? (

According the Fritz Scheuren, who edited this edition of a booklet originally created by the American Statistical Association, “What is a Survey” is “designed to promote a better understanding of what is involved in carrying out sample surveys – especially those aspects that have to be taken into account in evaluating the results of surveys.” There are chapters on how to plan a survey, how to collect survey data, judging the quality of a survey, and what are focus groups, among other topics.

Best Practices for Survey Research (

This page from the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) offers a detailed list of standards or criteria for conducting high quality surveys. This is a good check list for anyone doing survey research.

Conducting Research Surveys via E-mail and the Web (

This report from the Rand Corporation, available in PDF files, addresses three main questions about Internet surveys: When should they be considered? What type of Internet survey is appropriate for a particular study? How should Internet surveys be designed and implemented?

3. Surveys and Opinion Polls as Question Sources (

This site is an excellent, nonpartisan resource on trends in American public opinion. Users can click on a wide range of subject areas to find the exact questions and polling results from national surveys.

Polling Data Topics (

This page from the Roper Center contains a list of topics linked to a sampling of questions that are stored in the Center’s archive. The archive contains survey questions and results from academic, commercial, and media survey organizations such as the GSS, Pew Research Center, Yankelovich Research Partners, and Wall Street Journal.

General Social Survey (

The home site of the GSS contains information about the project and links to the GSS Codebook and data. The Codebook is a rich source of questions on background variables, attitudes, opinions, and various social indicators.

Public Opinion Surveys (

Part of the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research, this page contains an annotated list of online sites for opinion polls and surveys. The sites provide various resources, including survey questions, datasets, and full-text reports.

4. Calculating Response Rates

Response Rates (

This program from Simple Interactive Systems Analysis (SISA) enables the user to calculate a survey response rate using the standard method developed by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). Ordinarily, response rates are calculated simply by dividing the number of completed interviews by the sample, i.e., number of individuals who were selected to participate in the research. The AAPOR method takes into account various design complexities and practical difficulties by identifying several different categories for sampled cases such as partially completed interviews, refusals, unknown and ineligible cases.