Thinking about methodology

We stand at the door of so many possibilities.

Dear Reader, 

Today we are going to dig into the nature of survey driven research. I’m interested in learning about the respondent from a 360 degree perspective. A survey is designed to extract information from the respondent. That information being extracted should be useful and definitive in some way that could not have been otherwise derived by observation. That last assertion could be debated. It could be evaluated from a lot of different perspectives. I’m wondering just how much of the research being conducted utilizing survey methods takes into account how the respondent feels about being a participant in the study. All of the recent talk about political tracking polls has probably raised my interest in the aforementioned research methodology question. A lot of different lines of inquiry could be raised to really dig into this question about respondents within survey based research methodologies. Generally speaking I have not participated in a survey in some time. I cannot to the best of my knowledge remember completely a survey outside of maybe a few clicks online here and there. 

At the moment, I have taken to wondering about who has the best deep fried appetizers in the area. By who I mean to say what restaurant. It seems that during this great year of pandemic the delivery services that bring food from restaurant to customer are growing. That business model appears to be working out well enough for those services. The cost of the delivery may very well be wreaking havoc for the restaurants. This is not an example of pure arbitrage, but instead it is an example of a service existing on the basis of another service. I’m sure an economic term exists to explain the dependence of the backward linkages between the delivery service and the origins restaurant. At the moment, I cannot remember that term so you will have to just imagine that one exists and it is pithy, resplendent, and otherwise eloquent. Getting back to the topic at hand, I should be able to pretty easily figure out based on the places I have been where I might want to do business again. That would be the easiest way to answer the question. It would be true empirically based on a direct sample and my preferences and the quality of the restaurant at the time of dining, delivery, or pickup. Answering the question in a more complete way would require a much larger sample size than my own personal experience. It would be possible to look at the ratings of some aggregation websites or even sort and filter within some of the aforementioned delivery services. Those methods might be the right way to go or it might be simpler to make a choice about dinner and then return to the search at a later time.

Several quick searches by rating as the only factor quickly put me right back where my initial decision would have taken me anyway. I could have and perhaps should have just gone with my initial reaction and avoided a bunch of additional research. Keeping my mind focused on a solid research agenda seems to be harder and harder over time. Honestly, it is much easier to just not do anything than to actively tackle hard questions each day. During this year of pandemic a lot of time has been spent in the pursuit of just waiting for better news. That alone was enough to push forward my academic research agenda. Right now conference requests are starting to come in and journal deadlines are the same as they have always been. Every day is a good day to sit down and write a paper, but that is easier to say than to accomplish. A cup of afternoon coffee just got brewed and I’m writing along here while watching the Green Bay Packers play football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

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