Effective Survey Writing

By | January 27, 2019

When planning the survey, keep the purpose in mind; whether the survey is intended to gauge preferences or actual behaviors, and so on. This is best reflected in a carefully chosen title. The title should reflect the survey objective and should attract the survey population too.

The respondents should also be carefully chosen. Determine the demographic and personality profile to filter respondents. Survey questions can also be framed to identify respondents who do not fit the profile. Such questionnaires can be rejected. It is also essential to determine whether the respondents’ identity is material or anonymity is acceptable. In either case, if you pledge to keep data confidential, make sure that the survey forms are stored securely.

Effective surveys include only relevant questions. Avoid repetitive questions unless they serve a purpose in the survey. Word your questions in simple language appropriate for the respondents. Ensure that the questions cannot be interpreted in two ways. Place questions on a similar topic together to avoid tiring the respondent.

Keep the questions brief so that the respondents can quickly move from one question to the other. Also, avoid multiple questions and limit each question to a single point. A better idea is to give the respondent an indication about the likely duration of the survey at the very beginning. This keeps them engaged and increases the likelihood of them completing the survey. In mail-in surveys, clearly indicate the end date of the survey so that respondents can fill the forms and mail them timely.

Avoid framing leading questions that would place the respondent under moral pressure to respond in a way that suits you. The questions should encourage honest answers. Consider the various possibilities for answering each question and incorporate all those options in the response form.

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Select a response format that is convenient to the respondent and to you. Check boxes and circles are commonly used. However, check boxes are slightly more difficult.

Consider the appropriate method for analyzing various types of questions. Rating scales and Agreeability scales can be quantified but open-ended responses cannot. This does not mean that such responses are not useful. Asking for respondent feedback is courteous and increases their satisfaction.

Remember to thank the respondent at the end of the questionnaire and possible offer some kind of incentive.

Once the powerful survey questionnaires are complete, make sure they are proofread. Testing a smaller version of the survey with a limited group helps to identify errors that can be corrected before administering it to the target population.

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