Survey research about religion is a highly-developed intellectual field and yet it remains interesting to the general public.
Unfortunately, the high cost of conventional, random-sample questionnaires, especially those with national scope, has made it difficult to explore new areas of research, prototype new questionnaire modules, and experiment with alternate wordings of individual items. Such difficulties inhibit the development of new theoretical perspectives and concepts.
Despite having the disadvantage of non-random samples, online questionnaires can be excellent tools for creating new items and modules that later on can be used in more expensive conventional surveys.
For example, a set of two dozen items about a topic can be refined via an online questionnaire to make a scale consisting of only the half dozen items that achieves highest scale reliability. Furthermore, online questionnaires can explore and develop hypotheses, identifying the ones most deserving of further scientific investment.
theARDA’s Question Lab will host online questionnaires designed to test new and novel questions related to the study of religion. Over time, many new topics will be addressed, and old ones will be examined from fresh perspectives.
Over time, theARDA will be posting reports based on the questionnaires that will address both substantive questions about religion and methodological issues such as scale construction, reliability assessment, and item wording.
As the project develops we will solicit questions from religion researchers. We anticipate that most questionnaires will be composed of several modules, the exact number depending upon their size. Thus, we plan to collect several modules and then analyze which ones would combine best with each other for any single questionnaire.
Our first project, a survey of attitudes regarding science and religion, is currently running. Visitors are welcome to take the Religion and Science Survey and view its current results upon completion.