The Best of Sherlock Holmes


Rating the Untold Tales of Sherlock Holmes: Survey Methodology

By Randall Stock


The untold tales of Sherlock Holmes were mentioned by Holmes or Watson in the original stories but were never published.  Now a survey of Sherlockians identifies the most interesting of these untold tales.

This two-part survey took place in January and February 2003.  Participants came from the Hounds of the Internet, an e-mail discussion group of experts devoted to the Holmes stories.  An e-mail message was sent to the group informing them of the survey and inviting them to vote using a special web-page form.  They could also vote via e-mail.  Forty-four people voted in the survey, with seventeen voting in both parts.

The goal of the survey was to identify the tales that sounded the most interesting.  Since there are more than 100 untold tales, it could be difficult to remember and evaluate so many case references.  The process was therefore separated into two parts: nominating candidates and then ranking the top nominees. 

Part One of the survey involved nominating up to 15 candidates for the tales that sounded the most interesting.  To improve consideration and survey reliability, voters were given a ballot listing 61 of the most colorful untold tales and could also write-in candidates via e-mail.  Each tale was identified by a short, one-line summary of the case reference.  The ballot was derived from lists published in a variety of sources and was pre-tested with several group members to insure that the most likely candidates were included.

The 33 voters in Part One made 432 nominations.  Each of the top 14 nominees was chosen by at least one-third of the voters.  Their choices, with the number of nominations in brackets, include the following tales:

In Part Two of the survey, voters ranked their top ten choices from the 14 top-nominated tales.  The Part Two ballot listed the full story text referring to each of the 14 tales.  That text reference is shown on the survey results page.  The tales were listed in random order and did not indicate the number of nominations from Part One.  There were 28 voters in Part Two of the survey.

Participation in the survey was good.  There were approximately 250 subscribers to the Hounds group, so the overall participation rate was roughly 17% and more than 10% for each part of the survey.

For additional information on the survey and an analysis of the results, see "Rating the Untold Tales" by Randall Stock in The Hounds' Collection volume 8 (2003).

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