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Duane F. Alwin

In: The SAGE Handbook of Survey Methodology

Chapter 34: Survey Data Quality and Measurement Precision

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Survey Data Quality and Measurement Precision
Survey data quality and measurement precision
Duane F. Alwin

Measurement, as we have seen, always has an element of error in it. The most exact description or prediction that a scientist can make is still only approximate. If, as sometimes happens, a perfect correspondence with observation does appear, it must be regarded as accidental … (Kaplan, 1964: 215)


Despite the potential for error, precise measurement is considered the sine qua non of research investigations in all sciences. Without it, empirical knowledge is meager and underdeveloped, regardless of the field of study. One principle of precision has to do with measurement validity, which requires, as classically defined, that one's measures correspond to the construct of interest and that it succeeds in measuring ...

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