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Response bias: something to watch out for in surveys completed by a single person

Scrupulous surveyors know that if one person answers all the questions, the methodological concern for “response bias” lurks. Better data comes from multiple sources. Rather than have only the administrator of a legal department, for example, answer questions about practices in a law department – numeric answers are not as vulnerable to deliberate or unintentional skewing – different parts should be completed by different people. Sometimes referred to as “same source bias,” it makes the results less reliable.

This presents problems more when the questions have to do with qualitative answers, such as “To what degree do your internal clients bring your lawyers in on time?’ and less when questions concern countable, confirmable numbers, such as “How many bankruptcy cases were pending at the end of the year?”

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