Marginal material or key data? Understanding community attitudes to a survey about domestic and family violence

Publication Name

Social Science Quarterly


Objectives: This article examined “marginalia”—participants’ unsolicited additions to a survey conducted in regional Australia examining community attitudes to domestic and family violence. Methods: Using mixed methods analysis, we examined whether there were any specific demographic or attitudinal characteristics associated with leaving marginalia on our survey. We used NVivo to thematically organize the types and content of marginalia provided by participants. Results: We found that leaving marginalia on the survey instrument was not associated with specific demographic or attitudinal characteristics, thus making it challenging to determine the primary motivation for leaving such additions. Thematically, the marginalia were largely concerned with providing further explanation or questioning and correcting. A smaller group focused on communicating attitudes toward and experiences of domestic and family violence. Conclusions: A minority of participants leave unrequested information on quantitative surveys. We suggest some further thoughts about the value of such data and how to manage it.

Open Access Status

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Funding Sponsor

University of Wollongong



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