Way back in 1944, Edwards Deming published an article in the American Sociological Review that could be required reading for anybody who does research today. He outlined all potential (and unfortunately, common) sources of error in survey research.
Apparently our contemporary obsession with sample sizes, random samples, response rates, and margins of error is not so new. In outlining all sources of error, Demining wanted to emphasize that “sampling errors, even for small samples, are often the least of the errors present.”
So despite some old-fashioned language and defunct technologies (Versta Research has never fielded a survey via telegraph!) we feel it is worth reproducing here what Deming called the thirteen factors “affecting the ultimate usefulness of a survey” as all of them apply as much today as they did 68 years ago: