Writing surveys is easy; or is it? The truth is that writing surveys is easy but writing effective surveys is more difficult. The following are twenty tips that if followed will help you write more effective surveys.
1. What is the purpose of the survey?
Surveys are conducted for many reasons. By phrasing the questions and structuring the answers surveys can be used in a multitude of ways and for a variety of reasons. When compiling a survey do not loose sight of its purpose.
2. Title the survey
The survey title is a golden opportunity to immediately summarize a survey's objective and grab the attention of invited respondents. Respondents are going to invest time in completing the survey so make them feel that their investment is worthwhile.
3. Do not make the survey any longer than it needs to be
Every question that is asked should be asked for a reason. Focus on 'need to know' questions and minimise 'nice to know' information.
4. Use plain English, avoid jargon and acronyms, maintain consistency and do not ask questions that may result in ambiguous answers
Care must be taken in words a question. If a question is not clear then there is every chance that respondents may interpret the question differently to that intended by the publisher making any analysis of the data meaningless or at the very least misleading.
5. Avoid long questions
Try to use short sentences wherever possible. Long questions tend to cause responses discomfort and can lead to a higher level of incidents where respondents abandon a survey.
6. Ask one question at a time
Avoid confusing the respondent with a question like 'Do you like football and tennis?'
7. Avoid influencing the answer
It is important not to load the question. 'Should irresponsible shop keepers who sell tobacco to children be prosecuted?' is unlikely to have any value.
8. Ensure that the answer format used allows the respondent to answer the question being asked
Allow the respondent to answer how they really feel or they may be less included to complete the survey. As a last resort consider the benefit of including a "Do not know", "Can not say" or similar response option.
9. At the same time that you compile the survey consider, when the survey is complete, how the compiled data is going to be analyzed
If a question is asked that allows a text text open ended response appreciate that such information is likely to be difficult to score and / or summarized. Consider grouping answers. For example "How long have you worked here?" – 'less than 1 year', 'between 1 and 3 years' and 'more than 3'.
10. Ensure that the questionnaire flows
When asking questions group the questions into clear categories as this makes the task of completing the survey easier for the participants.
11. Target your responses
In some cases you will want to target a specific group, in others a cross section. If you can not easily control the responders consider including questions / answers that will allow you to filter out respondents who do not fit your target profile.
12. Allow the respondent to expand or make comments
Giving the respondent to make additional comments will increase their satisfaction level and will also give valuable feedback on the specific questions and / or the survey as a whole. Remember though for a large sample collection it may be difficult to analyze free text open ended responses.
13. If the survey you are conducting is to be confidential ensure that your pledge is upheld
If you have assured the respondents that the survey is confidential ensure that the individual data is not to be shared with anyone and the information is not going to be used for any other purpose. Confidentiality must be maintained at all times and any identifying information destroyed after the survey is complete.
14. Weigh up the benefits of allowing respondents to be anonymous or identifiable
If your responses are to be anonymous then appreciate that you will be able to follow up or match "pre" or "post" surveys. However in some cases allowing people to remain anonymous will allow people to respond without possible peer pressure.
15. Give careful consideration to the best response format
It is good practice to maintain a consistency in the format used for responses. Keep in mind that when analyzing the data radio buttons are easier to analyze than check boxes that offer the respondent multiple responses. Do not use a check box if a radio response would do.
16. Give the respondent an idea of how much time the survey will take.
Respondent drop out can occur if the survey appears to be a stream of never ending questions. It is good practice to give an indication as to how long the survey is likely to take so the respondents can choose the best time to complete the survey.
17. Inform the respondents of the survey end date
Encourage responses to complete the survey as soon as possible but advice responds as to the surveys end date so that they have the opportunity to schedule the necessary time.
18. Pilot the survey
Before publishing a live survey publish a small pilot survey to check for questions that are ambiguous or confusing and to ensure that the survey is aesthetically pleasing.
19. Before publishing the survey proof read the survey several times
Check and check again that the survey is grammatically correct and makes sense. If possible get someone else to proof read the survey before you publish, if no one else is available then take a break before checking again.
20. Remember to say thank you
To complete surveys respondents need to invest their time and should be thanked either in a covering letter, at the end of completing the survey or in a follow up letter. You may even want to consider incentives such as a prize draw or reward.
For more information please visit http://www.SurveyGalaxy.com
Source by Martin Day