General Survey Limitations

One of the major limitations of survey research is its closed-ended, reductive character.  Ease of interpretation of findings is often in direct tension with the level of subtlety or nuance of response options– dichotomous variables of the Yes/No or Agree/Disagree variety may yield handy percentages, but give little information beyond top of mind responses to a forced, often artificial choice. Despite extensive attention to pre-testing, response options may be interpreted differently by different respondents, challenging data reliability and validity. Overinterpretation of findings and misuse of survey results without attention to problems of evidence and methodology are real dangers, often beyond the control of those producing the data.

We believe that sharing the research with respondents and with the larger community of dialogue and deliberation sponsors, practitioners, and participants are worth the risk of misuse or overinterpretation of our findings, inasmuch as we have tried to be as transparent as possible about survey limitations. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with the researchers should you have any questions or concerns about our research and our presentation of the findings here. Should you be interested in having the researchers present our research to your group, please contact us. You may also want to learn more by participating in existing forums for presenting and discussing the research on the Presentations page of this website.

Specific Limitations of This Survey

As a non-random online survey, the generalizability of the survey to the larger population of dialogue and deliberation practitioners is limited. Please see About the Survey: The Sample for further discussion of this limitation.