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The Oxford Handbook of Polling and Survey Methods

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The methodologies used to study public opinion are now in flux. The primary polling method of the last half-century, the telephone survey, is rapidly becoming obsolete as a data collection method. At the same time, new methods of contacting potential respondents and obtaining their response are appearing, providing a variety of options for scholars and practitioners. Generally speaking, we are moving from a polling world that was largely interviewer driven over the phone and face-to-face to predominantly interviewer driven self-administered poll environments, New methods of data collection, however, must still deal with fundamental questions to polling methodology and total survey error including sampling, selection bias, non-response error, poststratification weighting, and questionnaire design features. The Oxford Handbook on Polling and Survey Methods brings together a unique mixture of academics and practitioners, from various backgrounds, academic disciplines, and experiences. In some sense, this is reflective of the interdisciplinary nature of the polling and survey industry: polls and surveys are widely used in academia, government, and the private sector. Designing, implementing, and analyzing high quality, accurate, and cost-effective polls and surveys requires a combination of skills and methodological perspectives. Despite the well-publicized issues that have cropped up in recent political polling, a great deal is known today about how to collect high quality polling and survey data even in complex and difficult environments. Divided into four main sections, the Handbook draws on the existing research and explores data collection methods. It then addresses data analysis and the methods available for combining polling data with other types of data. The next section covers analytic issues, including the new approaches to studying public opinion (ie social media, the analysis of open-ended questions using text analytic tools, and data imputation). The final section focuses on the presentation of polling results, an area where there is a great deal of innovation. A comprehensive overview of the topic, this volume highlights current polling trends provides ideas for the development of new and better approaches for measuring, modeling, and visualizing public opinion and social behavior.

About the Author

Lonna Rae Atkeson is a Professor of Political Science, Regents’ Lecturer, and Directs the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy as well as the Institute of Social Research at the University of New Mexico. She is an internationally recognized expert in the area of election sciences, survey methodology, voting rights, election administration, public opinion, and political behavior. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Golisano Foundation, the Thornburg Foundation, and local, and state government agencies. She has received various awards for her research in election sciences and for her teaching and mentoring. R.Michael Alvarez has taught at the California Institute of Technology his entire career, focusing on elections, voting behavior, election technology, and research methodologies. Alvarez is a Fellow of the Society for Political Methodology, co-editor of the journal Political Analysis, and co-director of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project. He has received awards for his teaching and mentoring, including twice receiving the Caltech Graduate Student Council’s Teaching & Mentoring Award.