Anyone who has been in the field of survey research knows how difficult it is to explain to friends and family what exactly it is we do. I have gotten so caught up with this question sometimes that I forget to consider why I do it - which in its own way helps answer the what question.
So here is why I do it:
- I like to ask people questions and listen to their responses.
- I love learning a little about a lot of different topics. (In what other field could you be included in publications that range from the topics of vulvodynia to fourth grade alcohol and tobacco use?)
- I can directly apply most of what I do and learn each day to the rest of my life.
- I can step back and look at the forest (society) or dive in close and examine the bark on a single tree (individual behavior) - depending on how I feel each day.
- I get to debate things like: should this measure have a midpoint? And no matter which way I argue, I am certain to have about 50% support.
- I get to apply science (survey methodology) to the scientific process of my collaborators.
- I work on tasks and projects with clear and defined deliverables, providing me with the satisfaction of completion; and I work within the never-ending cycle of the scientific method, always building on previous work.
- I get to play with technology.
- I work with people who are way smarter than me.