This past week, I was approached by a University of Minnesota student asking me to take a survey for a research class. The survey was on Football and feelings towards penalties and referees within the games. The methods of the survey had both benefits and flaws that led me to look at the survey with a critical eye, given what I have learned in the Journalism 3251 class.
Starting with the negatives, the researchers methods of selecting participants were majorly flawed. The researcher would not be able to generalize their information because the sample is not random. The sample was a form of convenience sampling to the researcher, as they first began to recruit students by standing at a corner and handing surveys to the first students that walked by. As we learned in class, this is not a random sample. The population can't be generalized, as students are selected based on their presence to the researcher. All of these students could have similar opinions, as they may all come from one class. Then, the researcher began to ask if those walking by were football fans and if so, they should take the survey. This is extremely flawed; football fans will have an inherent bias against the NFL replacement referees after following the first few weeks of the sport.
On the positive side, the researchers questions, in questionnaire format, stayed objective and clear. None of the questions led the respondents one way or the other. All questions stood on general likert scales, except for basic demographic information. The scales effectively gauged one's knowledge of football and their opinions, giving a no confidence section for those not knowledgeable. The questions asked about opinions related to NFL referees and fines given in the NFL. The survey did a fine job gaining insights, but those insights will not be generalizable