Creating a Survey

The Nuts and Bolts of Surveys
A good survey has the potential to:
 Reach a large number of respondents
 Represent an even larger population
 Generate standardized, quantitative data
 Be confidential and anonymous
 Generate qualitative data through the use of open
ended questions
There are 3 common ways to administer a survey
 Face-to-Face – allows surveyors to establish a rapport with
respondent, has high rate of response, often lengthy and
 Telephone – relatively inexpensive and quick, response
rate lower, often inconvenient for respondents
 Self-administered – offer anonymity and confidentiality,
wide coverage, convenient for respondents, very low
response rates and no opportunity for question
Before you ever start to create a survey, you
must first know what information you are
trying to obtain from the people you are
having fill it out
It is this information that will guide the
questions that you will ask
Depending on the information needed, a
variety of questions could be asked
Every survey needs to be named
Some people discard a survey based entirely on its
subject or sender. You should consider other titles
that will pique the interest of those filling it out.
 For example:
Evaluation of Services of the Benefits Office
Your Opinion About Financial Services
Free T-shirt
Win a Trip to Paris
Please Respond By Friday
Free Subscription
Every survey needs to have an introduction that
explains why the person is taking this survey
 A good cover memo or introduction should be short
and includes:
▪ Purpose of the survey
▪ Why it is important to hear from the correspondent
▪ What may be done with the results and what possible impacts may
occur with the results
▪ Address identification
▪ Person to contact for questions about the survey
▪ Due date for response
Start the survey with questions that are likely to
sound interesting and attract the respondents'
attention. Save the questions that might be difficult
or threatening for later.
 Voicing questions in the third person can be less
threatening than questions voiced in the second
 For example, ask: "How do your colleagues feel about
management?" rather than "How do you feel about
Above all, your questionnaire should be as
short as possible.
When drafting your questionnaire, make a
mental distinction between what is essential
to know, what would be useful to know and
what would be unnecessary.
Retain the essential, keep the useful to a
minimum and discard the rest.
Poorly Worded
 Complex terms and language
 Ambiguous questions
 Double negatives
 Making assumptions in your questions
Biased, Leading, or Loaded
 Hard to disagree with statements
 Leading questions
 Leading with your order of questioning
Problematical for the Respondent
 Recall dependant questions
 Offensive questions
 Questions with assumed knowledge
 Questions with unwarranted assumptions
 Questions with socially desirable responses
Close-ended – simple yes/no, check the box etc.
 Very easy to fill out and go tabulate the results but often it si shallow
data, doesn’t have a lot of meaning
 If the list of answer categories is long and unfamiliar, it is difficult for
respondents to evaluate all of them. Keep the list of choices short.
An open-ended question is a written response
 For example: "If you do not want a company picnic, please explain
 If there are an excessive number of written response questions, it
reduces the quality and attention the respondents give to the
The issues raised in one question can
influence how people think about subsequent
questions. It is good to ask a general question
and then ask more specific questions. For
example, you should avoid asking a series of
questions about a free banking service and
then question about the most important
factors in selecting a bank.
Your survey should always include questions
that determine the demographics of the
person filling it out
This information will help you to classify the
information that you received and make
sense of the data
Ensure that you keep any sensitive questions
at the end of the survey, you want to ease
your respondent into them