Friday, December 21, 2012

Watch out for bias in surveys

A while ago a company produced statistics that proved eating chocolate was good for your health. Before you rush out and buy that giant block of fruit and nut chocolate read on.
The survey was commissioned by a chocolate company and hidden in the tiny print near the bottom of the study were the real facts. Eating a small amount of plain dark chocolate is good for your health. Eating a lot of chocolate is not so good.

The lesson to be learned is to check the sources for bias. Who commissioned/organized the survey in the first place?

The same is true for surveys about who is reading books, what genres are being read and so on.
If the survey is based online, you need to expect a higher percentage of readers of digital books. If it is run by a print publisher then readers will be more print oriented and will be more likely to be big readers of whatever genre that publisher produces.

Surveys can be helpful and their information is valuable but check the sources. Watch for bias. And don’t rush to write in a genre you know nothing about on the information in a survey until you’ve checked the facts carefully.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

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