In most sentences, it is clearer and simpler to use the prepositions by or through instead of by means of.
- Mr. Dickens entered the house by (not by means of) the rear door.
- The demographic data were gathered by means of (or through) a survey.
When the emphasis is on the process or tools used, the phrase by means of may be preferable.
- By means of bribery and threats, the reporters finally entered the embassy.
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