Audience Dialogue

Books on audience research

There aren't a lot of books on audience research. The few that exist are mostly out of date, and cover only radio and television audiences. We're not yet aware of any book on researching internet audiences.

Handbook of Radio and Television Audience Research, by Graham Mytton. BBC/UNICEF, 1999.
This book has a worldwide focus on audience research for public service broadcasting. It includes background material on the development and uses of audience research, as well as examples of questionnaires and survey results. ISBN 92-806-3393-7.

Audience Survey Cookbook, by Dennis List. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1997.
This is my own book, focusing on small-scale surveys. It was online till recently, but that website changed ownership and closed down. I could put it on this site, but my new book Know Your Audience replaces it completely.

Radio Survey Cookbook, by Dennis List. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1991.
The earlier edition of the Audience Survey Cookbook, which focuses on how to do telephone surveys in Australia. The Audience Survey CookbookL was designed for use in developing countries, and hardly mentions phone surveys. (The new book, Know Your Audience covers both aspects.)

Audience Information By Design; Asia-Pacific Institute of Broadcasting Development, Kuala Lumpur, c.1982.
A statistically-oriented book produced for the Asian Broadcasting Union. Still available: see AIBD.

Surveying the Audience: A Handbook for Small Market Public Radio Stations. Alaska Public Radio Network: no date (mid-80s?)
Describes the process of doing audience research for small market public radio stations. Defines terms, provides sample questionnaires, suggests strategies, & warns about pitfalls. Cites studies done by rural Alaskan public radio stations. Out of print - you might find it in a large library.

Surveying your Arts Audience, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington DC, 1985. Republished in Australia by the Australia Council in 1986.
Aimed more at people commissioning surveys than at those actually doing them, this book has a useful appendix of model survey questions. I suspect it's out of print.

Who's my Market: A Guide to Researching Audiences and Visitors in the Arts. Helen Close and Robert Donovan, Australia Council, Sydney, 1998.
A research workbook for arts organizations in Australia. An excellent reference for those who want to become buyers of research, with some good examples of research problems and their solutions.

Audience Research Sourcebook, from National Association of Broadcasters (USA).
I haven't seen this, but the contents (available on the website by clicking on the Research link) look comprehensive. Because the NAB is an association of commercial radio stations, the book probably focuses on commercial uses of audience research.

Audience Ratings, by H. M. Beville. Published by Lawrence Erlbaum, 1987.
This book is basically an account of the development of ratings systems in the USA. It's not really about how to do audience surveys, but more about how commercial stations can use the data.

Ratings Analysis, by James G Webster Published by Lawrence Erlbaum in 2000.
An excellent book on ratings: their background and usage. A pity it's only about the USA.

Who's Listening? by Robert Silvey. George Allen and Unwin, London, 1974. The story of BBC audience research - again, mostly historical. But interesting.

There are other books on audience research, mostly with a more theoretical emphasis. The best known of these is perhaps

Denis McQuail: Audience Analysis. Sage Publications, 1997.

Another general book, with an excellent coverage of content analysis, is Media Research Techniques by A. A. Berger, also published by Sage (2nd edition, 1998).

About once a year, ESOMAR holds a conference on audience research, then publishes the conference papers in book form. The papers are well worth reading, but the Swiss franc prices are enormous for third-world countries, specially if you're only interested in a few papers. (How about putting it all up on your web site, ESOMAR?)
Second Radio Research Symposium (1997)
Electronic Media and Measurement Trends (1998)

For more details, see the ESOMAR web site

Books on general research methods

From the hundreds of books on social research methods, I've picked out a few that I've found particularly useful, and are easily understood by non-experts.

Do It Yourself Social Research, by Yoland Wadsworth. 2nd edition, 1997. Allen & Unwin, Australia.
A jargon-free book on simple social research methods, particularly useful for people working on social work, health, and community development.

The Art of Asking Questions, by Stanley Payne. Princeton University Press. First published in 1951, and still a classic. Currently out of print - try a library.

Asking Questions: A Practical Guide to Questionnaire Design, by Seymour Sudman and Norman N. Bradburn. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1982. 397 pages.
Very useful and specific, though it hardly touches on audience measurement.

Surveys with Confidence. A practical guide to survey research using SPSS, by Mark Rodeghier. SPSS Inc, 1996. 178 pages.
Very clearly written. Even if you're not using SPSS, it contains useful information on how to do surveys.

Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods, by Michael Quinn Patton. Sage Publications, 1990. 532 pages.
A very lucid and usable treatment of qualitative research techniques.

Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design by John W. Creswell. Sage Publications, 1998. 403 pages.
Creswell compares five traditions of qualitative "inquiry" (he doesn't call it research) - biography, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, and case studies. This makes it sound like heavy going, but of 20-odd books on qualitative research which I checked out recently, I found this easily the clearest and most informative. Not for beginners, though.

Designing Qualitative Research by Catherine Marshall and Gretchen B. Rossman. Sage Publications, 1995, 2nd edition. 178 pages.
More of a how-to book than the one by Creswell, but aimed mostly at academic researchers.

Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook, by Matthew B. Miles and A. Michael Huberman. Sage Publications, 1994.
One of the least discussed areas of qualitative research is how you analyse that mountain of verbal data you've collected. This book displays a wide variety of techniques.

Polls and Surveys, by Norman Bradburn and Seymour Sudman. Jossey-Bass, 1988.
A definitive book on opinion polls and political surveys.

Sage Publications is the most active publisher in this subject area. Their catalog is worth a browse.

Public Opinion Quarterly. I find this the most useful journal on research methods.

A concise online bibliography of books about survey methods. American books only, though.

Interesting books from the fringes of research

Meeting of the Minds: Creating the Market-Based Enterprise, by Vincent P. Barabba. Harvard Business School Press, 1995.
This book is not directly about research methods, but about how to use the results of research, and how organizations can act on knowledge of their markets. Here's a summary, rather turgid, but it's the best I can find.

There's another book by Barabba and Zaltman, Hearing the Voice of the Market, which covers similar ground. The trouble is, it's designed for use by huge corporations, and a lot of the suggestions and procedures the authors outline are unsuitable for the small, cash-strapped, and/or Third World organizations this web site is designed for. My Research Usability page may be helpful (specially when I finish it!)

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, by Edward R. Tufte. Graphics Press, Connecticut, 1983.
A beautiful book, but expensive. It covers graphs, maps, and how to convey information invisual form. I couldn't find a Graphics Press website, but here's a review.

How To Make Meetings Work - The New Interaction Method by Michael Doyle and David Straus. Berkley Books, New York, 1976.
New principles for the conduct of business meetings - many of which (by applying a little imagination) can be applied to qualitative research.

< Know Your Audience
Software >

© Audience Dialogue ~ August 2001
Email us: