Whatever your field, there is a good chance that you will at some point need to gather data from people. As every scientist knows, it’s important to ask a mixture of people in order to get a cross-section of people that is representative of the population. Whether you are asking about food, habits or religious beliefs, you need to ask a number of people from different backgrounds.
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Nowadays much of our lives happen online. Whether you use the internet at work or for leisure, most people are connected and the web is a simple way to get in contact with a wider network of people. The same applies to surveys. What better way to ensure a good sample than by spreading it via the internet?
The modern clipboard
Using survey software has additional benefits in the shape of the design tools that you can utilise. Since most survey software providers allow you to design complex question trees. You can focus on the demographic that you are interested in and avoid your respondents having to answer unnecessary questions. You can also collaborate with other people in your survey design and even invite your respondents via email or by embedding the link on your website.
Perhaps the most useful aspect of software-based surveys is the ability to analyse the results electronically. This is particularly pertinent with large surveys, where the ability to process the results and produce graphs and bar charts at the touch of a button becomes extremely valuable. With so many powerful analysis tools available, you are more likely to spot trends and correlations in the data. You can also link more than one survey and spot how your results have changed over time.
Three tips for effective survey design:
- Keep it short. No one is prepared to devote substantial amounts of time to filling in a survey. Ask just a few questions and make them count.
- Phrase your questions simply. Remember that your respondents may come from all walks of life. Simple language suits everybody and will ensure you that get accurate results.
- Offer a reward. Encourage people to stay with the survey to the end by offering a small reward. Offering them the chance to be entered into a prize draw is an efficient way to motivate your respondents on a small budget.
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