UP STAT Faculty calls out abuse in survey methodologies
Last updated: Sept. 30, 2022, 5:56 a.m.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE FACULTY OF UP SCHOOL OF STATISTICS on the Proliferation of Surveys with Unclear Methodologies
We, the faculty members of the University of the Philippines School of Statistics, speak and lend our collective voice to call out the pervasive abuse of survey methodologies by some entities doing their own brand of research, and promoting them in social media. We have been observing these practices, including surveys not based on random sampling, such as videos of “kalye surveys” being done by some vloggers and suspicious online surveys, especially on Twitter and Facebook. We are dismayed by their cavalier disregard for the principles of data gathering. We also witness PR companies, private individuals, and even some media organizations publishing results of surveys with unclear methodologies.
Surveys reveal facts, beliefs, sentiments, and opinions based on a representation of the population. However, the quality of any inference cannot rise above the quality of the methodology it is based upon. Sample selection strategies can generate bias in the data collected in surveys. For instance, this happens when the sample tends to favor a segment of the population. Data collection processes may also generate bias, such as when an interviewer purposely affects the answers of the respondents. Biased methodologies will only give biased results. Thus, we call on the public to be critical of surveys in this respect. Do not immediately accept survey results as they are. Be mindful if the sample is of appropriate size based on, but not limited to, a target margin of error, level of confidence, and nature of the target population. How was the sample selected? Which sectors of the population, if any, are being represented? What events surround the period of data gathering? When facing an interviewer, was the respondent interviewed in a neutral yet professional tone? What are the control mechanisms implemented to ensure accuracy of the protocols in data collection? These are only some indications of survey operations with proper implementation and controls.
We appreciate reputable organizations who maintain and continually uphold the highest standards of professional ethics in survey research. We call on them as partners in promoting the critical understanding of survey results among our citizenry.
The UP School of Statistics shall be vigilant in fighting for the ethical practice of statistical science especially when data and principles surrounding its acquisition, processing, analysis, and interpretation are haphazardly handled. We aspire for a statistically literate country that uses surveys for illumination and sound decision-making.