Inescapable Laws of Survey
When they ask you to do a survey: GORDON'S FIRST LAW
- If a research project is not worth doing, it is not worth doing well.
When writing a survey proposal: LAUNEGAYER'S OBSERVATION
- Asking dumb questions is easier than correcting dumb mistakes.
When planning logistics (don’t be too dependent on equipment): PHILLIPS' LAW
- The better the 4WD, the further away you will be when you get stuck.
When doing pre-survey library research: WEINER'S LAW OF LIBRARIES
- There are no answers, only cross-references.
When defining research questions for a survey: BARUCH'S OBSERVATION
- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
When selecting tools: COCHRANE'S APHORISM for physicians
- Before ordering a test decide what you will do if it is 1) positive or 2) negative. If both answers are the same, don’t do the test.
When formulating interview questions: MURRAY'S LAWS
- Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.
- Never ask a salesman if his is a good price.
When researching population, history, etc. (know when to stop): SEGAL'S LAW
- A man with one watch knows what time it is.
- A man with two watches is never sure.
When consulting on someone else's survey: THE ROMAN RULE
- The one who says it cannot be done should never interrupt the one who is doing it.
When gathering data: LEVY'S NINTH LAW
- Only God can make a random selection.
When analysing the data: FOURTH LAW OF REVISION
- After painstaking and careful analysis of a sample, you are always told that it is the wrong sample and does not apply to the problem.
Remember to define your terms! COHEN'S LAW
- What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts-- not the facts themselves.
When drawing conclusions: THUMB'S FIRST POSTULATE
- It is better to solve a problem with a crude approximation and know the truth + 10%, than to demand an exact solution and not know the truth at all.
At unexpected times throughout the course of a survey: OLIVIER'S LAW
- Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
compiled by Douglas Boone