Monday, October 19, 2009

How to write an effective survey

7A survey is a research method in which subjects respond to a series of items in a questionnaire or an interview. The procedure used frequently to obtain information is survey research. It is most easy way to get information from the participants. It may take from 4 to 5 minutes to few hours. This quantitative research involves systematically asking people their attitudes, feelings, ideas, opinion, behaviors or anything else. Of course, there are problems with surveys. If the question involves personal information about participant’s life, age or criminal activities the respondent may not reply honestly. A survey is as effective as its researcher’s conception of the question and how it should be asked, for example a survey about the attitude of people towards abortion with only two tentative answers can be ‘I think abortion should not be allowed under any circumstances’ or ‘I think abortion is permissible in situations involving danger to mother’s health’ would not yield valid information.[1]
An effective survey should have following things
Keep it simple:
The simpler the survey; the better the results. If you try to make the questions too complicated the participant will get confused and end up choosing the wrong option.
Avoid redundancy:
Do not repeat a question. This will get the participant annoyed. Be precise and to the point.
Have an interesting introduction:
An interesting introduction in the beginning establishes a good impact on the participant. It also tells the participant about the organization or company.
Avoid personal questions:
Unless it is necessary do not ask too personal questions. It makes the participant uncomfortable and they hesitate to respond. Besides, in most of the cases people tend to lie about their personal lives which make the survey more inaccurate.
Keep it short:
Companies tend to make tiresomely long surveys. Participants are prone to get irate because of that. A short survey is easy to fill out and a better way to go.
Give them incentives:
If you have a long survey for your participants make sure to give them some monetary incentive. That is the only way you can get them interested in answering it.
[1] Sociology by John J. Macionis