Sunday, 24 April 2011

So, a surveyor walks into a bar... / A questionable survey

A central part of my job is to ensure that studies are conducted with rigorous methods.  When, for example designing a survey, it is crucial to ensure that one does not use leading questions or tacitly seek to ensure a specific outcome.  This is a challenging task and one of the reasons it takes education and professional training to carry out credible surveys and not simply obtain a predetermined outcome.

A survey is presently being circulated in our neighborhood, in at least three different versions. Sadly, it meets none of the criteria for a well-designed, open-ended survey.  On the contrary it is very poorly designed.

It seems as if those who designed this survey are not aware that the results will be misleading, by nature of its design. Nor do they seem aware that it is deeply problematic to inject a poorly designed and biased survey into the community dialogue. It is troubling since:

 - no name or organization is attached to the survey, it is unclear who is behind it
 - the questions are leading.
 - the language used to describe the OCP process is colored, and contains factual errors
 - the context is poorly developed
 - the survey does not seek to determine the knowledge level of the interviewees with regards to the

The distributed survey reads as a blatant attempt to rally community members against a village centre; for exclusion of Lower Capilano from the OCP; and for a district wide referendum of the OCP.  If those who designed this study wish to convince community members of these three issues, they should explicitly spell this out, rather than tacitly invoking their opinions through a purportedly 'objective' survey.

It would be inexcusable if such a poorly designed, and heavily lop-sided survey was allowed to influence the decision making process on minor issues, let alone matters that are so significant to the community.

Gunilla Öberg
2046 Curling Rd

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