Business Research Methods Discussion
Questionnaire CHAPTERWhat is the best question sequence?
Asking general questions before specific questions in order to obtain unbiased
Bias caused by the influence of earlier questions in a questionnaire or by an
answer’s position in a set of answers.
A question that screens out respondents who are not qualified to answer a
A filter question used to determine which version of a second question will be
What Is the Best Layout?
Several similar questions arranged in a grid format.
The title of a questionnaire should be phrased carefully:
To capture the respondent’s interest, underline the importance of the research
Emphasize the interesting nature of the study
Appeal to the respondent’s ego
Emphasize the confidential nature of the study
To not bias the respondent in the same way that a leading question might
Graphical User Interface (GUI) Software
The researcher can control the background, colors, fonts, and other features displayed
on the screen so as to create an attractive and easy-to-use interface between the user
and the Internet survey.
Paging layout – going from screen to screen.
Scrolling layout – entire questionnaire appears on one page and respondent has the
ability to scroll down.
A small outlined area, such as a rectangle or an arrow, that the respondent clicks on to
select an option or perform a function, such as submit.
Small graphic boxes, next to an answers, that a respondent clicks on to choose an
answer; typically, a check mark or an X appears in the box when the respondent clicks
A space saving device that reveals responses when they are needed but otherwise hides
them from view.
A circular icon, resembling a button, that activates one response choice and deactivates
others when a respondent clicks on it.
A visual indicator that tells the respondent what portion of the survey he or she has
Boxes where respondents can type in their own answers to open-ended questions.
Boxes that appear at selected points and contain information or instructions for
Internet Questionnaire Layout (cont’d)
Software That Makes Questionnaires Interactive
Variable piping software
Controls the flow of an Internet questionnaire.
Forced answering software
Allows variables to be inserted into an Internet questionnaire as a respondent is
Prevents respondents from continuing with an Internet questionnaire if they fail
to answer a question.
Interactive help desk
A live, real-time support feature that solves problems or answers questions
respondents may encounter in completing the questionnaire.
Probability versus Nonprobability
Probability Samples: each member of the population has a known non-zero probability of being
⚫ Methods include random sampling, systematic sampling, and stratified sampling.
Nonprobability Samples: members are selected from the population in some nonrandom
⚫ Methods include convenience sampling, judgment sampling, quota sampling, and
Random sampling is the purest form of probability sampling.
Each member of the population has an equal and known chance of being selected.
When there are very large populations, it is often ‘difficult’ to identify every member of the
population, so the pool of available subjects becomes biased.
⚫ You can use software, such as minitab to generate random numbers or to draw directly
from the columns
Example—A teachers puts students’ names in a hat and chooses without looking to get a sample
Why it’s good: Random samples are usually fairly representative since they don’t favor certain
Systematic sampling is often used instead of random sampling. It is also called an Nth name selection
After the required sample size has been calculated, every Nth record is selected from a list of
As long as the list does not contain any hidden order, this sampling method is as good as the
random sampling method.
Its only advantage over the random sampling technique is simplicity (and possibly cost
Stratified sampling is commonly used probability method that is superior to random sampling because it
reduces sampling error.
A stratum is a subset of the population that share at least one common characteristic; such as
males and females.
⚫ Identify relevant stratums and their actual representation in the population.
⚫ Random sampling is then used to select a sufficient number of subjects from each
⚫ Stratified sampling is often used when one or more of the stratums in the population
have a low incidence relative to the other stratums.
The population is first split into groups. The overall sample consists of every member from some
of the groups. The groups are selected at random.
Example—An airline company wants to survey its customers one day, so they randomly
select 555 flights that day and survey every passenger on those flights.
Why it’s good: A cluster sample gets every member from some of the groups, so it’s good when
each group reflects the population as a whole.
Cluster Sample: a probability sample in which each sampling unit is a collection of elements.
Effective under the following conditions:
A good sampling frame is not available or costly, while a frame listing clusters is easily
The cost of obtaining observations increases as the distance separating the elements
Examples of clusters:
City blocks – political or geographical
Housing units – college students
Hospitals – illnesses
Automobile – set of four tires
The researcher chooses a sample that is readily available in some non-random way.
Example—A researcher polls people as they walk by on the street.
Why it’s probably biased: The location and time of day and other factors may produce a biased
sample of people.
It is a nonprobability method.
Often used during preliminary research efforts to get an estimate without incurring the
cost or time required to select a random sample
Voluntary response sample: The researcher puts out a request for members of a population to join the
sample, and people decide whether or not to be in the sample.
Example—A TV show host asks his viewers to visit his website and respond to an online poll.
Why it’s probably biased: People who take the time to respond tend to have similarly strong
opinions compared to the rest of the population.
Judgment sampling is a common nonprobability method.
The sample is selected based upon judgment.
⚫ an extension of convenience sampling
When using this method, the researcher must be confident that the chosen sample is truly
representative of the entire population
Quota sampling is the nonprobability equivalent of stratified sampling.
⚫ First identify the stratums and their proportions as they are represented in the
⚫ Then convenience or judgment sampling is used to select the required number of
subjects from each stratum.
Snowball sampling is a special nonprobability method used when the desired sample characteristic is
It may be extremely difficult or cost prohibitive to locate respondents in these situations.
This technique relies on referrals from initial subjects to generate additional subjects.
It lowers search costs; however, it introduces bias because the technique itself reduces the likelihood
that the sample will represent a good cross section from the population
Uses of Qualitative Research
➢ Qualitative research is useful when:
It is difficult to develop specific and actionable decision statements or research
The research objective is to develop a detailed and in-depth understanding of some
The research objective is to learn how a phenomenon occurs in its natural setting or to
learn how to express some concept in colloquial terms.
The behavior the researcher is studying is particularly context-dependent.
A fresh approach to studying the problem is needed.
Comparing Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Focus Group Interview
➢ An unstructured, free-flowing interview with a small group (6-10 people) led by a moderator
who encourages dialogue among respondents.
Easy to execute
Allow respondents to piggyback off each other’s ideas
Provide multiple perspectives
Flexibility to allow more detailed descriptions
High degree of scrutiny
➢ Depth interview
A one-on-one interview between a professional researcher and a research respondent
conducted about some relevant business or social topic.
A particular approach to probing asking respondents to compare differences between
brands at different levels.
Produces distinctions at the:
─ attribute level
─ benefit level
─ value or motivation level
What is different between reliability and validity in research?
Reliability and validity are both about how well a method measures something: Reliability refers
to the consistency of a measure (whether the results can be reproduced under the same
conditions). Validity refers to the accuracy of a measure (whether the results really do represent
what they are supposed to measure).
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