Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

Accuracy is how close a measured value is to the 'real', 'true' or 'actual' value.

explanatory context

Accuracy is about making measurements that reflect the 'reality' (however determined) as far as possible devoid of mistakes and taking account of bias.


Accuracy is not the same as precision. if you take several measurements and they are all close together then you are being precise but they might all be inaccurate. A footballer hitting the bar of the goal with a succession of shots is being precise but not accurate (assuming the footballer was trying to score a goal).

analytical review

Colorado State University (1993–2016) defines:

Accuracy: A term used in survey research to refer to the match between the target population and the sample.

Precision: In survey research, the tightness of the confidence limits.

associated issues


related areas

See also

Researching the Real World Section 1.9.2

Researching the Real World Section 1.10.4


Colorado State University, 1993–2016, Glossary of Key Terms available at , accessed 21 November 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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