oa South African Journal of Information Management - Using scale reduction techniques for improved quality of survey information : peer reviewed article
Surveys have been used since time immemorial to collect raw data for the production of information in a variety of contexts. The earliest use of the survey technique can be traced back to that of ancient Egyptian rulers who conducted censuses to help them administer their domains. Even the Old Testament of the Bible refers to the Lord asking Moses and Eleazar to 'take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel...' The age of this research technique is perhaps indicative of its prominence today as a tool of both the modern scientist and of industry-based information managers.The survey method is considered as the single most important approach in empirical social research (Kuechler 1998:1780 and one that most frequently underpins research designs (Van Staden and Visser 1991). Hinkin (1995) posits that over the past several decades, hundreds of scales have been developed to assess various attitudes, perceptions, or opinions of people in all walks of life. It is also common practice for surveys to be used by business managers as a source of information for decision making.The application of surveys can be found in a diverse number of scientific journals in fields such as political science, psychology, education, computer science, medicine and informatics, as well as in mass media, industry and government research. There are various reasons for the prominence of the survey method among researchers. Possibly the most important, though not always acknowledged, are the positivist influences of philosophers such as Auguste Comte and Emile Durkheim since the first half of the nineteenth century.
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