Research can be carried out through primary or secondary methods. While the secondary methods are cost effective and convenient, they lack the accuracy and currency in terms of contemporary occurrences. It is for this reason that researchers embark on field surveys where they sample a group of respondents from the population collect primary data from them and extrapolate to reflect a representation of the entire population. However, the use of questionnaires and a cross sectional study approach comes with its own unique strengths and weaknesses. It ensures the research objective are adhered to and that the relevancy is not lost during the course of research but at the same time incurs the risks of losing out on other information that would be useful in arriving at the conclusion on the hypothesis. In addition, the fact that it only occurs once denies the research the consistency and accuracy attributed to longitudinal approaches. In the long run, the approach provides additional information that if applied with the secondary data could be useful in arriving at the conclusion.
The data collection technique applied was a field survey. This is because the researcher is to sample robbers from the society and get them fill the questionnaire. This method through the use of questionnaire is one of the methods applicable in the collection of data through surveys. It facilitates and allows for the collection of primary data. It is, therefore, considered a primary source of data collection. In addition, the filed survey adopted was close ended in nature. This is since the questionnaire had pre-set questions with a number of alternatives. This often has the limitation of restricting the respondents to the set of options available in the questionnaire. This can work against the accuracy, relevance and utility of the information gathered from the respondents. This arises since the respondent does not get an opportunity to give his or her own perspective, opinion and reactions.
The questions are qualitative rather than quantitative. Qualitative questions often seek to get the extent of activity, the challenges and the raw data in terms of the prevailing conditions. However, quantitative questions look into the quantity, that is, the amount or number of times something happened, how difficult it was and the nature of quantities involved. In the questionnaire the approach is more inclined towards a qualitative analysis. In both the commercial robbery and the bank robbery questionnaire, the researcher is concerned with the supervening conditions and the assessment of the robber of the conditions. The questionnaires seek to explore the qualitative aspects to the crime. The robbery is not needed to give the quantitative consideration. In addition, in attempting to classify the questionnaire into either of the two categories, one needs to attempt to tabulate the analysis of the data. A quick look into the questions reveals a lack of comparison of quantities. Rather the questions if tabulated for analysis evokes qualitative leanings and concerns. One asks questions like the motive of the criminal, the source of encouragement or hope of success and the strengths and weaknesses.
The questionnaire is cross sectional and not longitudinal. This is because of the two outstanding characteristics that fit within the cross sectional category. First, the researcher does not manipulate the data. The respondents reply is taken in its raw form and recorded within the relevant range. In some instances, precise figures are taken as they are. Secondly, the questionnaire occurs only once. It does recur at intervals so as to assume the longitudinal character.
The study in its approach has various strengths and weaknesses. The questionnaire approach and the fact that it is cross sectional confers on the study the benefits of primary sources and in the same vein comes with its weaknesses. First the method confers on the study the accuracy and certainty of primary data. It does not rely on previous sources which may not reflect changes in attitudes and characteristics in the criminal. In addition, the study through the questionnaire approach enables the researcher maintain the research relevancy and achievement of research objectives. It discards and sieves out unnecessary information. The researcher is able to gather only the data that would lead in the analysis of his research objectives. This is further reinforced through the close ended nature of the questionnaire that confines the respondent to a certain range or nature of reply. Often, open ended questionnaires incur the risk of irrelevancy since the respondents could give inapplicable or unnecessary information in the response. Closing the response to say a yes or no maintains the relevancy by confining the respondent to the fact.
In addition, the study is more accurate and a reflection of societal occurrences due to its cross sectional approach. The researcher does not manipulate the data any further. The data is recorded in its raw form. This ensures occasions of distortion and attendant loss of the accuracy in the data is dispensed with. In addition, the questionnaire approach enables the researcher set the trajectory of the research and include elements that corroborate each other towards the settlement into one conclusion.
On the other hand, the study has its own unique weaknesses. First, the questionnaire approach that sets the questions and then restricts the range of responses is limiting and incurs the risks of losing out on important information. The respondent is not given the opportunity to relay the information from his own perspective. The overall research objective often is to gain understanding from the respondents that would lead a conclusion on the hypothesis based on information gathered from respondents. This may not be possible in the absence of an open ended approach. In addition, the cross sectional approach only considers one set of responses and generalises it to the entire population. This is despite the possible errors. Ordinarily, one may require the researcher to employ the longitudinal approach in which the research is carried out a number of times for the evaluation of consistency and accuracy of information gathered. Lastly, the research questions may not necessary lead to a correlation consequent of arriving at a definite conclusion with the application of corroborate sources such as secondary data.
Johnson, B. R., & Turner, L. A. (2007). Toward a Definition of Mixed Methods Research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(2), 112-133.
The Sentencing Project. (2007). Women in the Criminal Justice System. Research and Advocacy for Reform, 1-10.