Survey Design Criteria

Conducting my online survey recently was a wonderful learning experience. Since I have nearly completed in the data collection, I would love to share some tips on designing online survey. I have always known early in my dissertation journey that I have to conduct a survey eventually. I was afraid to start data collection too early before I have completed my literature review because I was worried if I didn’t get all my requirement correct, hence asking the wrong questions.

It was one day three months ago that I suddenly had the inspiration on the questions I wanted to ask in my survey. I quickly jot them down in my notebook and  they had been sitting there for months before I finally put them into spreadsheet, trying to organize and ‘perfecting’ them. I had also checked out a few resources on where to host my survey. Since I was only conducting this survey through the web as preliminary requirement analysis, I have identified 2 choices based on what others have been using. Most peers in my uni use Google Forms and some use Survey Monkey. Finally, I decided on the Google Forms as it’s free and simpler to use. If you need to design more professional and complicated survey, Survey Monkey will be a better choice for a fee. I also learned that Lime Survey is good for designing complex survey and it’s free. However, I found out too late so I didn’t use it.

Here are some tips that I followed in designing my survey and I hope they are useful as some guidelines to you too:

1) Provide information about the purpose of survey, why and how the data will be used

– I have participated in quite a number of surveys before and some I found that have never informed about what they really wanted to know from the respondents. Without a purpose, I found myself lack the enthusiasm in participating.

2) Ask clear and logical questions

– Sometimes when you are too immerse in your own research you tend to ask illogical question that appear logical only to you. Always make your question as simple to understand as possible without ambiguity.

3) Create sections to show different purposes

– If you have many questions to ask and they appear to be for different purposes, put them in clear sections with different headers and descriptions.

4) Give example if possible

– I found that with example, it’s easier for the respondents to understand what I was trying to get from their answers.

5) Give instruction on how to answer the question

– Some complex questions do require some instruction to assist the respondents in answering. This instruction is the only help you can provide to them since they cannot reach you in time to ask before answering. This will eliminate doubt and inaccuracy of answers.

6) Proof reading and pilot testing the survey

– Proof  reading is important to see if sentences could be rephrased better or if there’s grammar mistake that you don’t realize earlier. I asked a few friends to pilot testing the survey and got their feedback to further improve the survey before it went live. This help to eliminate the chance to redo the whole survey process (which is time consuming and you probably annoy the respondents) if something goes wrong.

7) Information about the number of questions or number of pages

– The hubby suggested this tip, which I think very helpful as most people don’t wish to spend too much time in answering questions. If they know there are only a few pages in the survey, they are more willingly to answer.

If you have not participated in my survey yet, please respond to my survey  here and see if I have missed any good tips while designing it.


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