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Surveys should ask for more precise data than ranges

It’s an abysmal survey that mostly asks for data in ranges. With range data, “Check size of department: 1-3 lawyers, 4-8 lawyers; 9-15…” as an example,” other than parroting back the results, all you can create are three-by-three or four-by-fours tables – or whatever number of ranges you have – to show how your data fits with other data, but otherwise you cannot do calculations. I must confess I have tried sometimes to select a number below the mid-point of the ranges, but my make-shift efforts to use them in calculations are undoubtedly problematic and fraught with error.

I grant that it may be easier for respondents to pick a range, but against that slight advantage it is also hard to set the appropriate ranges. If ranges are not equivalent, another challenge arises because your scales have changed. Ask for actual numbers so that you can do calculations with the results.

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