Creating a survey that will produce helpful and accurate results can be more difficult than initially meets the eye. For every survey that is created, despite varying topics and desired outcomes, there are important things to remember.
Avoid Leading Questions: In order to be sure that a survey does not appear biased towards one viewpoint, it is important to maintain consistency throughout the survey. No one response should stand out causing respondents to waver from what they actually believe. These types of questions are called “leading questions”, which tend to sway people one way, and they lose sight of the other options that they can select. An example of this would be the question “What is your favourite colour apple?” with answer options being, “yellow, green, or luscious red”. Based on the descriptions, the survey taker may feel obligated to select the more desirably explained option, as it seems more correct.
Instructions must be clear: One of the most important things to remember is that what may seem simple and obvious to you may not appear so to those completing the survey. Having basic instructions listed throughout the survey, where necessary, only contribute to the elimination of misunderstanding which lead to unreliable data collection. For example, if the question at hand is “What are your favourite colours out of the listed options”, be sure to confirm that more than one is supposed to be selected. Possibly add something simple to the question such as, “choose no more than five options”, confirming what may have appeared as blurred to evaluators. If a question can be misinterpreted, it will be.
Keep it simple and concise: Other ideas that add to making the survey more clear to respondents is to not ask more than one question at once. This will cause people to be unsure as to what exactly they are supposed to be answering. Also, the list of answers should not be too long, as it becomes difficult for the evaluator to go through all of them and decide on what they feel. Similar to this idea, be careful not to ask too many questions, as it may cause the voter to get lazy and begin to select answers without thinking about what they actually believe.
Keep it relevant: The answers to survey questions should be 100 percent relevant to the question. In addition to this all possible alternatives should be included, and answers should not overlap. Include things like “undecided” as it ensures accuracy. You cannot assume that everyone has an opinion on the specific question at hand. Using the “other” option, which allows survey takers to write in their own answer, is to be used sparingly as you want to make sure that people are generally able to answer all of your questions by selecting the options given. Using this option in addition makes it difficult to collect measurable data, therefore utilize multiple choice options as much as possible.
Creation process, further suggestions:
- Keep it short while ensuring you get all of the information that you set out to get
- Before beginning, create a list of objectives and research goals
- Avoid using slang as it contributes to misinterpretations
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