Surveys are a low budget, easy to administer option for collecting feedback. A good survey is simple to fill out; therefore, writing them effectively takes thought. See below and download our guide to discover methods and considerations to make surveys honest, fair, and efficient.
Pros/cons of surveys
Before you commit to a survey as your research method, consider the pros and cons:
- Realistic to produce: many survey-making tools are available
- Low cost: several of these tools are free
- Have the potential to collect large amounts of data
- Hardly anyone wants to take a survey
- Inaccurate answers can be collected due to participants’ lack of effort or desire to seem a certain way
- Occurrence of response bias: The people who respond to the survey may not be representative of the total population. Those who respond may do so because they have a strong opinion, and the neutral population is left unheard.
If it seems a survey isn’t the best method for achieving your research objectives, instead consider conducting a focus group, in-depth interviews, audience observance, or media analytics.
Pre vs. Post Surveys
Surveys can provide useful information both before and after a project is completed. School projects, formal research, and communications campaigns alike can employ surveys as a means of collecting information to inform efforts and evaluate effectiveness.
Sharing a survey before a project’s completion can answer questions like the following:
- How can I make my project appeal to my audience?
- Does my audience prefer X or Y?
- What visual elements can I use to best engage my audience?
- To what tone does my audience connect?
Sharing a survey after a project has been launched can answer questions like these:
- How well did I achieve my project’s objective?
- What did people learn from my project?
- Which elements of my project performed well? Which performed poorly?
- What could be done differently or better next time?
Before creating a survey, ethical standards should be considered.
- Identify the research sponsor
- Get informed consent
- Be clear that participation is voluntary
- Allow participants to withdraw at any point
- Give details on the survey’s purpose
- Do not deceive, mislead, influence, harm, or falsify data
- Uphold respect, honesty, and confidentiality and avoid bias
- Ask permission to use recording equipment if necessary
- In general, be as transparent as at all possible!
Survey question do’s and don’ts
- Develop clear research objectives.
- Make sure all your questions relate to at least one research objective
- Uphold strong ethical standards
- Form your survey to meet research needs
Since this question is somewhat personal to the presenter, it leads the audience to answer “yes.” It’s also difficult to determine whether something is objectively good or bad in totality without evaluating what elements were more positive or negative.
Unless this question was given specifically to people who work with or are educated on bioremediation, it would be hard to answer. The general population may not know enough about bioremediation to pick a favorite method.
This question is sensitive and influenced by social desirability, so it’s unlikely that all participants will answer it honestly.
This question assumes that all consumer prefer one product over the other, which is unlikely to be true. This leads to some participants being unable to answer the question.
It’s hard to tell how to answer this question, which can be frustrating to consumers.
It isn’t fair to ask participants to group themselves into such absolute categories. It’s rare that a participant identifies as “always”
being a certain way.
This question is also unclear. It asks about both the product itself and an element of consumer behavior. This question takes more effort to answer and should be separated.
It was okay.
With this question, the survey is showing bias towards the service by excluding the idea that the consumer may not have liked the
product at all.
Data collected from surveys can become actionable through proper analysis. When reporting on your data, consider and include:
- The question as it was asked
- Number of respondents
- How respondents were selected
- How respondents were contacted (if at all)
- A visual representation of the feedback
- Valuable data, like totals, averages, and differences
- Pew Research Center
- Survey Monkey
- Download the guide here.