Survey Design





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Survey design involves the planning of the whole survey project and the outlining the steps to take when conducting the survey. These steps start from the formulation of the survey goals and end at the interpretation of the survey results.




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The survey design specifically involves:

  1. Creating, brainstorming and verifying the survey goals
  2. Identifying the sample from the target population
  3. Choosing a survey method
  4. Creating a questionnaire or survey
  5. Conducting a pilot survey
  6. Revising the questionnaire
  7. Executing the full survey
  8. Analyzing and interpreting the data gathered
  9. Communicating the results

Step 1: Survey Goals

The survey goals simply state what you want to learn and who do you want to learn that information from. If you have answered these two questions, you will be led to the questions: “Is survey the right method to use?” and “Which type of survey should I conduct?” In other words, the goals of the survey are your guide towards the creation of the right questions to ask the right distribution technique or survey methodology to utilize, and the right people to take as respondents.

Step 2: Sampling

Most of the time, the number of people that make up the target population exceeds your capacity to include all of them in the survey. For this reason, the sampling process is conducted before executing a survey. A sample is a group taken as respondents in order to represent a larger target population.

Step 3: Survey Methodology

There are several types of survey which are categorized according to the length of time involved (cross-sectional or longitudinal), the instrumentation (paper-and-pencil or interview) and the specific method (online, telephone, mail, etc). In choosing a survey method, go back to your survey goals and ask yourself what method will be able to satisfy your goals.

Step 4: Questionnaire Design

The survey or the questionnaire includes a set of questions that you would like to ask to the respondents. The design of the questionnaire depends on the medium associated with the type of survey you have selected. For instance, surveying people aged 65 and above via the Internet is inappropriate. Pictures cannot be shown during telephone interviews. In addition, the questionnaire should follow the KISS principle which stands for “Keep It Short and Simple”.

Step 5: Pilot Survey

Testing the questionnaire is a good practice because it will facilitate correction of any errors in the questions or even in the layout. A pilot survey usually involves a smaller group of respondents than your sample size.

Step 6: Revision of Survey

The results of the pilot survey are crucial in knowing whether the questionnaire is already complete and appropriate, or there are questions that need to be edited, revised or deleted. This step may also include revising the questionnaire layout to a better-looking one to increase the response rate.

Step 7: Execute Survey

This step involves the actual administration of the survey to all the respondents in the sample. As much as possible, make sure that all the respondents are answering the questionnaire in the same environment to prevent any bias.

Step 8: Analyse Data

Step 9: Communicating the Results

Full reference: 

(Sep 26, 2012). Survey Design. Retrieved Dec 11, 2018 from Explorable.com: https://explorable.com/survey-design

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