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Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2018

Page updated 5 March, 2018

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2018, Researching the Real World, available at
All rights belong to author.


A Guide to Methodology

CASE STUDY Sandwell Skills Audit


1. You will be given a set of names and addresses on file cards and a map of the area.

2. The sample should only consist of people between 18 and 65 years of age, not in full-time education and not chronically sick.

3 On the first visit to the address please attempt to interview the named person. If the named person is over 65 or in full-time education or is chronically ill please substitute another suitable member of the household.

4. If possible make sure the substitute is the same sex as the named person.

5. If you get a reply from the address but the named person is not available on the first visit (and falls into the 18-65 category etc.) but is available at another time, please call back and interview the named person.

6. If you get a reply from the address but the named person is not available on the first visit and will not be available at another time then substitute another member of the household. If the named person no longer lives at the address then substitute a person currently at the address (preferably of the same sex as the named person).

7. If no reply is obtained on the first visit call back one time only. Attempt to obtain an interview with the named person (if applicable). If this is not possible substitute another member of the household.

8. If no suitable member of the household is available for interview or if no reply is obtained on the second visit please go to the next nearest house/flat until you get a reply. At the new address try to substitute someone of the same gender as the named respondent.

9. Write the name and address of the respondent interviewed on the file card that contains the original name.

10. Please do not lead the respondent and ensure that ambiguous replies are clarified. Use standard prompts like 'anything else' but do not suggest answers to the respondent. If, for any reason, you feel uncomfortable or threatened in an interview situation feel free to terminate the interview. Try at all times to be polite and pleasant.



Hello, is Mr./Mrs./Ms. ... at home?

I am from Sandwell College. We are doing a study of Sandwell to see what skills people have to offer and what educational, training, and other activities they want.

Would you be prepared to help us in our survey of the needs of Sandwell residents? The interview will take about twenty minutes.

The interview will be in the strictest confidence. Nothing you tell us will be passed on to anyone else.

If necessary, assure the respondent that all published material will be anonymous and that there is no way that anything they tell you can be traced back to them. If the respondent is reluctant ask if there is a more convenient time to call back. (Indicate how important it is we have a random sample so that it is representative of the people of Sandwell.)

If the respondent wants to know why she or he has been selected say:

Your address has been selected at random from the electoral register in the local library. (Go on to explain further if necessary.)

Adapted from Harvey, Wells and Place (1990)


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