Monthly Archives: October 2013

Educational Sessions offered for the 2014 Richmond Expo

sbio vfpa vce logos

The Department of Sustainable Biomaterials (SBIO) at Virginia Tech and conjunction with the Virginia Forest Products Association (VFPA) and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) is offering an educational session on May 15, 2014 as part of the 2014 Richmond Expo organized by VFPA. The educational session is divided in two tracks. The morning track will focus on drying operations and the afternoon track will focus on financial management principles for forest products industries.

The educational session will be conducted at the Four Points by Sheraton located at 4700 South Laburnum Avenue, Richmond, vA 2321. Registration details will be set up soon, so please keep yourself tuned for more details. If you have any questions please contact Angela Riegel at (540) 231-7107 or ariegel@vt.edu. A detailed description of the two tracks can be found in this web address http://sim.sbio.vt.edu/?p=1961

Morning track: Improving The Quality of Lumber Drying Operations

Session Description

drying pictureLumber drying operations, no matter the size, must provide a good quality product to maintain their customer base. Drying defects not only lead to product value losses but if passed onto the customer can lead to lost sales. In today’s business environment, reducing warp, maintaining good color and stain free lumber, and producing stress free lumber with the proper MC is critically important.

This session is designed to assist anyone drying lumber from the small-scale lumber dryer to commercial drying operations. The techniques and information presented are relevant to both hardwood and softwood lumber drying operations.

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RESEARCH BRIEF: What is survey research?

By Edgar Arias, earias@vt.edu

Survey research is an observational study mode in the social sciences that gathers information from respondents through the application of a questionnaire, with the purpose of making inferences about the population respondents belong to (Babbie, 2010).  This method is usually preferred when the unit of analysis is the individual person; however, it is also widely used for studies that involve groups or organizations, such as markets or companies.  Surveys are observational rather than experimental because their intent is to capture information without influencing the unit of analysis.  Survey research is an effective way to collect data because the observation can be carried out indirectly – the researcher does not need to be physically with the respondents, instead, it may be self-administered.  Additionally, only a sample of the total population can be observed to make inferences about the whole, as long as the sample is randomly selected.  It is considered as a quantitative method: its purpose is to make inferences about the population the respondents belong to.  Here, the respondent is the individual person that provides data by answering the survey questionnaire.

picture survey research

Figure 1 – Relationship between Purpose of Research and Appropriate Statistics

Goals of Research Survey

Survey researchers may have one or multiple goals to conduct a study.  According to the nature of these goals, studies can be classified as exploratory, descriptive, explanatory or a combination of these.  Exploratory studies are conducted when the researcher is interested in increasing his understanding of the relevance of a topic to a given population, or to assess the feasibility of conducting a larger study.  Descriptive surveys are designed to describe the characteristics and behaviors of the population.  Explanatory surveys area carried out when there is an interest in understanding why things happen (Vaske, 2008).

In order to achieve this objectives, survey researchers generally need to complete following phases:

  1. Specifying the research questions and hypothesis
  2. Design the survey and the implementation plan (i.e. survey methodology)
  3. Collect and analyze data

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