Survey research is instrumental in gathering information about the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others. It can be highly specific in nature or extremely broad in scope according to the wishes of the entity conducting the survey.
The wide availability of online survey software makes it easier than ever for businesses, scholars, researchers, and government entities to conduct survey research for their own informational needs. Online surveys provide a cost effective method for getting the same information government agencies, media conglomerates, and big businesses spend millions to find out.
Before you dive in, though, there are a few tips you need to understand about making the survey software work for your research needs.
1) Establish specific research goals. You need to know the specific information you're looking for, before you begin. This will help you get the biggest return on investment. All other steps are moot until you've determined the information you want to gain from the research.
The goals you have impact everything from the scale of the research, the size of your target group, and even the types of questions (and answering options) you offer in the survey itself. Common goals involve gaining information about buying habits, health care habits, investing, political leanings, religious tendencies, parenting beliefs, and more.
2) Identify your target audience. Once you understand your goals, or what you want to learn from the research process, it's time to refine your target audience. The great thing about your survey tool is that it allows you to cast as wide or refined a net as possible. It's all about how wide you want to cast that net and who you'd prefer to filter out.
3) Respect participants' time. The people who agree to participate in your survey research project are giving up their valuable time to do so. Make sure you thank them in kind by offering a fast survey experience. Ask only the questions that are necessary to reach your survey or research goals.
4) Keep questions relevant to the goal at hand. It's easy, not to mention tempting, to go off track when you have an audiences undivided attention. Surveys are only great if they are completed, though. The longer they take, the more questions they ask, and the further they stray from the stated goal, the more likely it is that respondents will stop answering questions before you have the answers you want and/or need.
5) Choose questions and answer styles carefully. You must be cautious in your wording of questions as well as how you allow respondents to answer. You'll generally get freer, more accurate responses to survey questions when you allow survey takers a free format for answering. However, the results will be infinitely easier to measure if you offer multiple choice answers for them to choose from.
These five tips are small in size, but mighty in results. Keep them in mind and use them in combination with your survey software in order to get accurate results regarding your survey research.
Go here to see an NIH research study done using Novi Survey: