When you want to focus on multiple information that is considered to be factual and relevant to the goal of the research, you can make use of surveys. A survey basically aims to gain the opinions of the participants and they are actually the most common tool used by researchers and businesses to collect a large sample of data and analyze it in a short amount of time. With surveys come a variety of methods to collect the, data but one thing is for sure—survey forms will always be present. It will come in a variety of formats and outlines, and the questions will vary depending on the purpose it is intended for.
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What Is a Survey?
Surveys are conducted as a means of collecting pertinent information from individuals. They are used in a variety of situations and are conducted in an assortment of ways. They can be conducted via
- printed questionnaire,
- telephone interview,
- through the mail,
- one-on-one interviews, or
- through online platforms.
The information that is gathered is conducted through standard procedures to ensure that all the questions asked are the same and are asked in the same manner. Participants also answer through a structured format since all the questions are the same.
Two Types of Surveys
Surveys can be categorized into two categories: (1) the questionnaire survey and (2) interview survey. With questionnaires, the participant is the one who will answer the survey by the method of pen and paper or online survey form while with an interview survey, the interviewer is the one who will pencil in the answers of the participant in the survey form. Each of these categories can be further broken down into subcategories.
Questionnaire surveys can be broken down into four subcategories.
- Mail survey. This is the type of questionnaire survey that is sent via the mail. This has also been the most common way of administering surveys in the past. This type of survey has advantages to both the conductor and the participant. They are quite inexpensive and the same material can be sent multiple people. The participants can also choose to answer the survey on their most convenient time. However, the response rate for these kinds of surveys is quite low.
- Group surveys. This manner of questionnaire survey brings a certain number of respondents to one location and answer surveys that are uniform in structure. This method is usually done for convenience’s sake.
- Household Drop-off Survey. This survey method requires the researcher to go to the participant’s household and drop off a survey form. The participant is then given a deadline to finish the survey or they may also be required to mail it back to the researcher.
- Online surveys. Nowadays, with the surge of online platforms catered to creating user-friendly survey forms, online surveys have become a common thing. This has also become the most convenient manner of collecting the pertinent data from the participant since you can just send the link to the survey form and it can be answered by the participant in a matter of seconds.
Interview surveys can be subcategorized into two types.
- Personal Interview. This is the survey method where a researcher/interviewer conducts a one-on-one question-and-answer session with the participant. The interviewer then records the answers of the participant in the survey form. The interviewer may also opt to record the answers through a voice recording device with the consent of the participant.
- Telephone Interview. This interview method helps the researcher/interviewer gather information without the need to have a face-to-face session with the participant. Telephone surveys are also common after a customer service call. An automated voice instruction will let the user know what button needs to be tapped for corresponding answers to the given choices.
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How to Create an Effective Survey Form?
Making the questionnaire for a survey can prove to be a very tedious task. Here are a few ways on how you can make your survey questions be more engaging to the participant.
- Let the participant know what the purpose of the survey is.
This is vital so that the participant will know how the answers are going to be utilized.
- Define who your audience will be.
You need to analyze whose opinions will matter for your research. This might include the age group, sex, and household income.
- Prepare your survey form.
Think about what method you want to use to collect the needed information. Always give out clear instructions and let the participant know how long it will take them to answer the survey.
Practices to Follow in Writing a Survey Questionnaire
Use language that is simple and straightforward. There is no need to use flowery words. The simpler the language, the better. Write on the level that is appropriate for the level of comprehension of your audience.
Keep your questions short as long questions might bore your audience. Keep your questions clear and concise.
Keep your survey short
Only use the necessary questions needed for the purpose of your research. Plus, the more unnecessary questions are included in your survey, the more chances that it might fall short of the purpose why you are conducting the survey.
Confusion must be avoided
In writing your questions, ensure that it only answer to one idea that is relevant to your survey.
Do not influence your audience
Leading questions can make the participants answer the survey in a dishonest manner. Non-territorial or neutral questions are favored.
Avoid being subjective
Subjective words should be avoided as this can vary from person to person.
List ALL of the answers
As much as possible, when you are writing down the choices that your participant can choose from, list them all down. This will help them avoid them from giving false answers, which can, in turn, hurt the results of your survey.
Avoid offensive questions
Some questions might offend some people, so ensure that your questions are as neutral as possible.
You can easily validate who are reading and answering your questions properly by rephrasing some of the questions. This can help avoid the participants from answering your survey form in a random manner.
Before you finalize your survey, find some people to test your questionnaire. Ask them for a feedback on whether it is easy to comprehend, or does it live up to the purpose of the research, was it interesting, points to improve on, if instructions were clearly laid down, and so on. This way, you will keep everything about your survey form free from being offensive or being too personal.
You can use a Likert-scale to measure the results of the responses to your questionnaire. Observe the way you have laid down your questions. The scale will help you out in calculating the validity of the answers.
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Why Conduct Surveys?
Various businesses and researchers conduct surveys in order to discover a whole new world of possibilities and answers to questions—important questions that vary in an assortment of ways. Your main question can be divided into sub-questions. Sub-questions attempt to collect more specific answers that would be able to answer your main question. To ensure that you get correct and accurate answers to all the questions, planning and structure is key. Remember three things when structuring your questions:
- survey goals,
- how to apply the data gathered from the survey, and
- next steps you need to take when you uncover the results of your survey.
But what are the main reasons why researchers and businesses conduct surveys? Here we give you four main reasons.
1. Uncover an answer to a question or to questions.
It is easy to determine what motivates a survey respondent, what they consider to be necessary, and gather important inputs such as feedback and opinion.
2. Encourage discussion
Key topics regarding your survey can be gathered from your survey participants. This is why it is important to let your participants know what the purpose of your survey is. You may even be able to uncover relevant topics that you can use to make your research more specific other than broad.
3. Decisions are objective
When you make use of surveys, you can make decisions that are based off objective information you have gathered. You can eliminate making decisions based on gut feeling, which is important for businesses.
4. Result comparison
When surveys are conducted, the results provide an overview of the participants’ behaviors and thoughts. The feedback becomes the basis to compare the results over time.
To Survey or Not to Survey?
Conducting surveys comes with its own set of pros and cons. You always need to consider whether conducting a survey will be the best method to uncover the answer to your unanswered question. Yes, they are a proven means of gathering a ton of information in a short span of time. However, they are not the only method out there. There are a wide assortment of platforms that you can use. You have to think thoroughly if using the survey method will be the best platform to produce the needed information that you might need. Always ask advice from experienced individuals as they might have inputs that would help you decide what would be the most effective way of getting the necessary information you need for your research.
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