(Trochim) Research Methods Knowledge Base: Read the section on Surveys and all its subsections (i.e., Plus & Minus of Survey Methods,… Constructing the Survey)
Activity: Take a Survey
Types of Surveys
- Mail Survey
- Electronic Survey
- Group Administered questionnaire
- Household drop-off
- Personal interview
- Telephone interview
Selecting the Survey Method
- Can the population be enumerated?
- Are there language issues?
- Will the population cooperate?
- What are the geographic restrictions?
- Is the population literate?
- What data is available?
- Can respondents be found?
- Who is the respondent?
- Can all members of population be sampled?
- Are response rates likely to be a problem?
- What types of questions can be asked?
- How complex will the questions be?
- Will screening questions be needed?
- Can question sequence be controlled?
- Will lengthy questions be asked?
- Will long response scales be used?
- Can the respondents be expected to know about the issue?
- Will respondent need to consult records?
- Can social desirability be avoided?
- Can interviewer distortion and subversion be controlled?
- Can false respondents be avoided?
Constructing the Survey
Constructing a survey instrument is an art in itself. There are numerous small decisions that must be made — about content, wording, format, placement — that can have important consequences for your entire study.
- determining the question content, scope and purpose
- choosing the response format that you use for collecting information from the respondent
- figuring out how to word the question to get at the issue of interest
Types Of Structured Questions
- Dichotomous Questions
- Nominal Questions
- Ordinal Questions
- Interval Questions
- Likert response scale
- Sematic differential
- Cumulative of Guttman Scale
- Filter or Contingency Questions
- Is the Question Necessary/Useful?
- Are Several Questions Needed?
- Is the questions double-barreled?
- Does is cover all possibilities?
- Does it provide enough context?
- Do Respondents Have the Needed Information?
- Is the question the correct level of specificity?
- Is Question Sufficiently General?
- Is Question Biased or Loaded?
- Will Respondent Answer Truthfully?
- Can the Question be Misunderstood?
- What Assumptions Does the Question Make?
- Is the time frame specified?
- How personal is the wording?
- Is the wording too direct?
- Does the question contain difficult or unclear terminology?
- Does the question make each alternative explicit?
- Is the wording objectionable?
- Is the wording loaded or slanted?
Interviews are can be challenging to conduct and rewarding to a study. The process requires skills and preparation that impact the results and usefulness of the interview results for analysis.
Preparation of Interviewers
Define the Role of the Interviewer
- Locate and enlist cooperation of respondents
- Motivate respondents to do good job
- Clarify any confusion/concerns
- Observe quality of responses
- Conduct a good interview
- Calibrate interview protocols
Each interview is unique, work on their own pace, and have been likened to a kind of art. There are common components listed and explained below:
- Gaining entry- Interviewers often have difficulty gaining access to those they want to interview. The best approach is to be professional, honest, and non-threatening.
- Introduction & Explain the study- The interviewer needs to be prepared with a short (20-30 second) explanation of the study to introduce the purpose of the interview.
Asking the Questions
- Use the questionnaire carefully, but informally- the questionnaire for the interview is the interviewer’s road map. Use it to guide the conversation.
- Ask questions exactly as written- Each respondent must to be asked the same questions to maintain consistency between interviews.
- Follow the order given & ask every question- Do not skip sections because the respondent starts talking about it, the interviewer must cover all of the questions.
- Don’t finish sentences- Allow the respondent to clarify what they are saying in their own words, the interviewer may alter or misinterpret what is being said in an effort to help.
Obtaining Adequate Responses
- Silent probe- Silence can effectively elicit elaboration from the respondent.
- Overt encouragement- Encourage the respondent as they answer.
- Elaboration & Clarification- It is appropriate to ask questions like “Would you like to elaborate on that?” or “Is there anything else you would like to add?” or “Could you tell me more about that?”
- Repetition- Repeating what the respondent has said can elicit new information without leading the conversation.
Recording the Response
- Record responses immediately- pieces of the interview may not seem important at the time, but may be extremely important in analysis.
- Include all probes- you need to include all of the probes the interviewer uses for analysis.
- Use abbreviations where possible
Concluding the Interview
- Thank the respondent
- Tell them when you expect to send results
- Don’t be brusque or hasty
- Immediately after leaving — write down any notes about how the interview went
General overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the major different survey types
|Are Visual Presentations Possible?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Are Long Response Categories Possible?||Yes||Yes||Yes||???||No|
|Is Privacy A Feature?||No||Yes||No||Yes||???|
|Is the Method Flexible?||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Are Open-ended Questions Feasible?||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Is Reading & Writing Needed?||???||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Can You Judge Quality of Response?||Yes||No||???||Yes||???|
|Are High Response Rates Likely?||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Can You Explain Study in Person?||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||???|
|Is It Low Cost?||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Are Staff & Facilities Needs Low?||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Does It Give Access to Dispersed Samples?||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Does Respondent Have Time to Formulate Answers?||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Is There Personal Contact?||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Is A Long Survey Feasible?||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Is There Quick Turnaround?||No||Yes||No||No||Yes|