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Collect Data with a Survey

Resources for learning about and conducting public opinion and other research surveys, including recruitment, questionnaire design, and online survey software.


Your Goals are to...

Get as much data as possible (avoid attrition and missing data)

  • Have an introduction to remind people why it is important
  • Start with interesting questions, not demographics
    • Put all boring questions, including demographics, as late as possible
  • Group related questions, have a logical order
  • Word sensitive questions carefully and put at the end when possible
  • Always have a question asking for any final comments at the end 

Get Good Data

  • Ask balanced questions 
  • Ask questions that people can actually answer, given limitations on memory and knowledge
    • "How often..." questions are difficult for non-regular actions, especially if there is no time frame.  
  • Do a pilot--have a few people complete the survey with you around so they can give feedback on the questions

For Web Surveys

  • Use logic to make sure participants only see relevant questions
  • Put just 1 or 2 related questions on a page
    • If on one screen, people will read it before deciding whether to answer at all
    • Too easy to accidently scroll past a question and accidently skip it
  • See Using Qualtrics Effectively (pdf) for tips, some applicable to all software

Questionnaire Design

How to Pilot Test your Survey